Hi everyone,

I am writing on behalf of all the ikamvanites to say a huge THANK YOU to all our learners, volunteers, interns, families, collaborators, supporters and friends; to wish you all HAPPY HOLIDAYS and to share some of our highlights and stories of 2010.

The year started with much cause for celebration: Our two grade 12 cohorts from the class of 2009 achieved excellent results. The Western Cape learners achieved a 89.7% matric pass, while the KZN learners achieved an 82% pass; compared with the national pass rate of 60.6% and provincial passes of 78.6% and 66.1% respectively. Even more impressively, 86% of the Western Cape ikamvanites and 81% of the KZN ikamvanites achieved Bachelor or Diploma passes, enabling access to university and universities of technology. This is particularly notable given that only 34.9% of black South African youth achieved these types of quality passes in 2008 (CHET, 2009). More than 70% of last year’s grade 12s are currently enrolled in tertiary institutions, and many have returned as volunteer tutors and mentors.

We’re hoping that the class of 2010 will reach similar heights, despite the disruptive school year caused by the World Cup and the strikes. IkamvaYouth’s branches stepped up to offer intensive tutoring, holiday programmes and strike-interventions this year, and the results of our volunteers and learners’ hard work is already evident in the reports that have been coming in over the last few weeks. There are so many great stories, activities, projects and achievements that it’s impossible to mention them all here. Please browse through our blog, join us on facebook and follow us on twitter to get a sense of some of what’s been happening this year at our branches in Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Masiphumelele, Cato Manor and Ivory Park.

We thank the supporters and partners who made these events happen, particularly the campuses that availed pro bono access to their venues and infrastructure for weekly activities (Nazeema Isaacs Library, Masiphumelele Library, Nyanga Library & Siyakhula Community Centre) and winter schools (TSiBA, UWC , DUT). A huge thanks is due to the committed donors who funded our activities again this year (Raimondo Trust, EMpower, The Learning Trust , Amobia, Hatch, Transnet & PPF), and a great thanks and welcome to the new funders who joined us this year (Potter foundation, Anglo American Chairman’s Fund, AME, Starbucks, Masi Corp, Eskom, Apheda, Nashua & WCED). Thanks especially to the individuals who’ve donated throughout the year through our fundraising events and monthly direct deposits.

We’re very proud to have launched the coolest website on the Internet, and send out a huge shout of thanks to the volunteers who designed and developed it :). We’re also super excited about the upcoming ikamvanite zone site, where ikamvanites can share resources, how-tos and networks for implementing IY programmes at their branches and beyond… watch out for the launch early next year.

Phillip Mcelu, Funeka Kalawe and I presented the IkamvaYouth model at the Quest conference on Improving Student Achievement and 21st Century Skills in Canada, and a major highlight of 2010 was receiving the Mail & Guardian / Southern African Trust Drivers of Change award for being THE civil society drivers of change in Southern Africa! The judges said of the ikamvanites “these learners are the true drivers of change as they are also setting a good example for younger learners to become agents of change for their own success.” Please read the full article about IkamvaYouth in the M&G’s Investing in the Future suppplement.

Finally, we welcome and congratulate the newest addition to our board of directors, Thobela Bixa. Thobela was a grade 12 ikamvanite in 2005, and has recently been awarded the Potter fellowship to do his MA in Chemistry at UCT. He’ll also be joining Susie at the University of Michigan for a year 🙂 We thank David and Elaine Potter for their ongoing suport of our people and organisation.

While we celebrate the achievements of our learners and volunteers, the situation we seek to address is depressingly becoming worse. While in 2002, white learners were twice as likely to enrol in tertiary study than their black counterparts, in 2007 this disparity increased such that white learners were three and a half times as likely to enter the doors of higher learning than black learners (CHET, 2009). The pressure is therefore upon us to do more, and in order to step up to meet this need, we need your help.

If each of the people reading this volunteers 3 hours a month or donates your equivalent earnings for this time, we can make a significant dent in the inequality that’s perpetuating disadvantage in SA.

600 learners will be enrolled in IY programmes next year, and we need funding to provide them with the support they need to lift themselves and each other out of poverty. With more volunteers and funds, we can reach more learners in the coming years – join the learning revolution and be the change!  Volunteer! Donate! … or at least get a My School Card!

We’re holding thumbs for our 2010 matric’s results, and look forward to all the successes and challenges of 2011. But in the interim, let’s all enjoy the holidays 🙂
Viva ikamvanites, viva! Thanks for a truly remarkable and wonderful 2010.
Joy