IkamvaYouth’s first rural branch celebrates an incredible 86% pass for its inaugural matriculating class, with 50% achieving the bachelor passes they need to access university. These results are particularly impressive compared with the provincial pass rate of 65.4%, and 31% bachelor passes. With the Eastern Cape the country’s worst-performing province, and Joza schools notoriously low-performing within Grahamstown’s highly unequal education system, these results mean more than just brighter futures for the 18 matriculating Ikamvanites and their families.

That after-school peer-to-peer learning and tutoring can yield results in this challenging context means hope to many schools and communities plagued by an education system in crisis. It also means that redressing the inequalities that plague Grahamstown is possible, and achievable. These results have been achieved through peer-to-peer learning and tutoring, where volunteering university students facilitate small group learning, where learners drive the agenda themselves. There is no teaching — only learning — and the results are remarkable!

Although Rhodes University is just down the hill from Joza, tiny numbers of learners enter the doors of this top institution on their doorstep. IkamvaYouth is thrilled to announce that this year, seven Ikamvanites have been accepted to study at Rhodes.

95% of IkamvaYouth’s Joza branch’s learners attend Nombulelo High school, where the branch is based. This is the biggest school in Grahamstown, and had 215 matric learners writing in 2013; just under 40% of these passed. As Dr Ashley Westaway from Gadra pointed out in his analysis of Grahamstown’s matric results last year, more than double the number of candidates that wrote at any other school in the City wrote at Nombulelo, and “as can be expected, the Nombulelo predicament had a massive bearing on the overall performance in Grahamstown. If one entirely removes Nombulelo from the City statistics, its pass rate increases by over 10%, up to 71,6%.”

This year, 75 matric learners at Nombulelo passed, with 32% attaining bachelor passes. Ikamvanites contributed 38% of these bachelor passes; a testament to what can be achieved through partnerships between schools and community-based after-school programmes. Nombulelo principal, Mr Mthuthuzeli Koliti, noted that those learners who do not connect with the teachers are inspired by the younger tutors who inspire them to work hard. Some of these slept at the school as they could not study at home and their commitment has paid off.”  Nomfusi Phamela Mgqobele, a parent of a very proud grade 12 learner, thanked IkamvaYouth and said that the organisation has not only helped with his performance at school but shaped him to become a responsible young man”.

Establishing the Joza branch has not been easy, and it is a testament to the hard work and support from a range of individuals and partner organisations. IkamvaYouth greatly appreciates the efforts of all involved, including the tutors, parents, the schools, Rhodes’ Centre for Community Engagement, the Claude Leon Foundation, the Joza Youth Hub, the Learning Trust and the Eastern Cape Department of Education. “These results are amazing”, said branch coordinator Bulelwa Mangali. “It’s also not the end as the three learners who failed are eligible for supplementary exams and so we are shooting for 100% pass by March”.