Reframing the Atlantis Narrative

Reframing the Atlantis Narrative

By: Yanga Totyi, Atlantis Branch Coordinator

As we begin the year, celebrating our stellar 2021 matric results, and reflecting on the Atlantis Brach journey since its inception, I am drawn to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Tedtalk: “The Danger of a Single Story”. 

In this talk, Chimamanda narrates a story about her upbringing and the single narrative she had built around her parents’ employee. The single-story was that of poverty and helplessness. This was shattered when they visited his village. Through this story, told at TED, Chimamanda, encourages us to recognize the importance of telling stories, to add voice to the narratives that exist about a situation, or a place. By adding our voice, we shatter single narratives about a place. We humanise and empower.  

Atlantis, located 65km outside of Cape Town, was established by the apartheid government in the early 1970s as an industrial community for the coloured population of Cape Town. Atlantis has been branded as a community rampant with drug use, and crime. IkamvaYouth established a branch in this community in 2017, against the backdrop of a single narrative. We have been running our after-school tutoring programme supporting young people to ensure that they pass matric, and access post-school opportunities. While the many economic challenges are real, our experience in the community has, again and again, shuttered the single narrative.  

Since the branch’s inception, we have worked with a community of stakeholders, who have all risen up to ensure we produce the best educational outcomes for young people in high school. Our main feeder schools such as Robinvale High School and Proteus Technical High school have been instrumental in making sure we overcome any hurdles.  It has been inspiring for us, to witness the school governing bodies, senior management teams and passionate teachers dedicate their time and resources, committing themselves to make an impact in the lives of Atlantis learners. 

Our partners, GrandSlots, Green Cape and the Atlantis SEZ have funded the programme, and Direct Axis has facilitated our mentorship, career guidance, life skills, and leadership programmes. The mentors particularly have been a constant source of support, spurring the young ones on and playing their part in retelling the story of Atlantis through the successes of these young people. 

Our after-school tutoring programme is facilitated by volunteers. Young people from the community show up to the branch to assist young learners with their homework and learning gaps. Here is one of our volunteers’ words: “Some of us were the first to pass and access tertiary education in our family. We have led by example, showing the younger brothers, sisters and cousins that it’s possible. My contribution to this branch is to also support learners and make sure that they are that example to their family”.

The combined efforts of tutors, mentors, teachers, school staff and parents have seen the branch produce stellar matric results year on year.  Each year our results have improved from 64% in 2018, 79% in 2019, 98% in 2020. 

Five years after the branch’s inception, the matric class of 2021 yet again dismantled the single narrative about young people from Atlantis by achieving a record-breaking 100% matric pass rate.  In addition, 67% of the 2021 cohort achieved a bachelor pass, 23% achieved a diploma pass, meaning that 90% of learners are eligible for tertiary institutions. In a community where not many are able to pass matric, we are proud of the collaborative effort to ensure that learners access tertiary education, and are set on a path to a dignified living. We are extremely proud of each and every learner that has gone through our programme. 

The danger of a single story about Atlantis could easily blind us from all the passion, the effort that these young people themselves put in to ensure they add to the story of success in Atlantis. Our CEO Hope Chidawanyika says: “The learners in our programme work extremely hard and every day they teach us all something new about what people can accomplish if they’re just given the opportunity and the support they need to reach their goals”. 

Kgahlisang Pilo, adamant about changing people’s perception of the youth of Atlantis – who are often labelled as drug and alcohol abusers and  consummate troublemakers, had the following to say about his IkamvaYouth journey,

“After failing grade 11 in 2019, seeing my peers go on to the next grade, I knew that I had to change something. With the help of IkamvaYouth, I changed for the better and focused more on passing and making it to matric. I gained new friends, I kept pushing and pushing and when I got my matric results…IT WAS SUCH A RELIEF! I finally made it and I would like to thank IkamvaYouth, the mentors and the funders for giving me the help I needed. I will never forget all that has been done for me! It has been such a bumpy ride.”


A big thank you to the IkamvaYouth team, for helping to weave this story, and bringing all stakeholders invested in the young people in our programme, to ensure we continue to tell a nuanced narrative of Atlantis. Atlantis branch staff and volunteers


Matric 2021; breaking barriers!!

Matric 2021; breaking barriers!!

By: Thandazo Jafta

The Kwa-Zulu Natal and Eastern Cape matric cohort of 2021 has proven once again that resilience yields great results. The 2021 matric cohort has raised the bar, excelling in such difficult circumstances, to achieve an overall pass rate of 93% across the three branches in the region.

The Umlazi branch managed to obtain a pass rate of 85%, 42% of these learners achieved bachelor passes while 65% of them are eligible for tertiary. These learners performed extremely well given the difficult learning environment exacerbated by the COVID-19 school closures. We applaud the branch tutors and staff who worked tirelessly to ensure these great results are achieved. 

Sanele, a tutor at the Umlazi branch had this to say about the efforts towards achieving these great results:

“We have been working together with the learners assisting them with their studies, so that they improve and indeed they have worked hard and have improved, with good results. The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take the knowledge away from you.”

The Chesterville branch produced exceptional results. The branch achieved a pass rate of 96%. The branch managed to obtain a 50% bachelor pass rate and 83% eligibility for tertiary. These amazing results have been achieved through hard work. The staff and tutors worked tirelessly to ensure that learners are assisted through various programmes such as additional holiday sessions and workshops that were aimed at ensuring that the learners achieve the best results. This is proof that hard work really does pay off. 

This is what Sibonelo Mdunge, the Branch Coordinator had to say about the year 2021:

“I got to connect in a more meaningful way with some of our learners in the year 2021, and I learned that this generation has to deal with so much more than what we had to go through. I am really proud of them. It wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the commitment of our amazing tutors and their dedication and eagerness to pay it forward. They deserve the best.”


In the Eastern Cape, where pass rates have been low, passing matric is a commendable accomplishment. Learners from our Joza Branch in Makhanda Eastern Cape went against the grain and achieved a pass rate of 96%, with 65% bachelor passes, and a cumulative 23 distinctions. 83% of the learners qualified to access tertiary education. These results show that when young people are afforded the necessary resources and support they require, they are able to soar. 

Sihle, the top learner at our Joza branch, achieved 6 distinctions and is planning to pursue a career in Pharmacy. These are the words he had to share about his experience at IkamvaYouth:

“Last year I was in grade 12 at Ntsika Senior Secondary School and managed to obtain a bachelor pass with six distinctions. Before I joined IkamvaYouth, I was very lazy and couldn’t study at home. IkamvaYouth helped by providing a quiet space for me to study and whenever I did not understand anything, they provided me with a tutor to help me understand. I am also a person who struggles to understand textbooks as they have a lot of information. IkamvaYouth further provided study guides that made it easier for me to understand. My future plans are to study Pharmacy at Rhodes University.”


Well done to the class of 2021, we wish them all everything of the best as they seek placements in various tertiary learning institutions, pushing against the barriers in eager expectation to one day achieve their dreams.  

Class of 2021: Striving for Excellence

Class of 2021: Striving for Excellence

By Busisiwe Nkosi, District Manager, Gauteng and North West

The Gauteng and North West region has truly demonstrated true resilience, successfully completing their matric after two years of interrupted learning. The North West and Gauteng Class of 2021 achieved an overall 90% Matric pass rate, a collective 112 distinctions. 60% of the learners achieved Bachelor’s passes and 87% achieved tertiary eligibility. These results are a true show of resilience as the Class of 2021 triumphed despite the school closures and constant interrupted learning. 

Zooming into branch performance, the Diepsloot branch achieved an impressive 97.4% pass rate, with 87% of the learners in the branch achieving a Bachelor’s pass and an impressive 48 distinctions. 98% of the learners are eligible to study at tertiary education institutions. The shining star from that Diepsloot branch is Kelebogile who obtained seven distinctions in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, English First Additional Language, Sepedi, Life Sciences, Life Orientation and Computer Applications Technology, this included 100% for both Mathematics and Physical Sciences. He was recognised and awarded as the top learner in Mathematics and Physical Science in Gauteng by the Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and Premier David Makhura.


“I joined IkamvaYouth when I was in grade 10. As much as I was doing great academically there were arrears in my life that were challenging me and affecting my mental health. IkamvaYouth assisted immensely in that regard through psychosocial interventions and affording me tutoring when the need occurred. The career guidance sessions also helped me narrow down my career choices. I am happy I joined the IkamvaYouth family and hope to repay the faith bestowed upon me’’.


Carrying the torch for our branches in the North West are our Ikageng and Mahikeng branches who produced excellent results this year. Our Ikageng branch once again shone bright with a stellar 98% matric pass rate. This year yielded the highest number of distinctions for the branch with the matrics getting a combined 20 distinctions. The branch also managed to obtain 58% bachelor passes and 81% eligible for tertiary.

The Mahikeng branch class of 2021 achieved outstanding results. The branch managed to attain a 93% pass rate, which shows a 5% improvement as compared to the previous year’s results. The class of 2021 has collectively attained 5 distinctions with 54% of the cohort attaining a bachelor’s pass.


The Ebony Park branch achieved great results with a collective pass rate of 84%. The branch managed to bag 53% bachelor passes, 23% diploma passes, and 7% higher certificate passes. The branch was able to produce an astounding 8 distinctions.


The Ivory Park Branch 2021 Matric cohort achieved a 75% pass rate. The branch achieved 16 distinctions with 3 learners receiving distinctions on core subjects including Mathematics, Business Studies and Accounting. Out of the 75% of learners who passed matric, we are pleased that 69% are eligible for tertiary education with 33% obtaining a bachelor’s pass, 36% diploma and a further 6% obtaining a higher certificate.

Our Mamelodi branch achieved an impressive 92% matric pass rate, a collective of 15 distinctions, with 2 learners attaining 2 distinctions each in Mathematics and Physical Sciences respectively. The branch bagged 24 bachelor passes, 9 diploma passes and 1 higher certificate pass. 89% of the learners are eligible to pursue a degree or diploma qualification in tertiary this year. Enormous effort has been made by the branch staff and tutors who have laid the foundation for our learners to have such an impressive performance.


We are now in the process of placing the class of 2021 into tertiary and other post-school opportunities. The cohort has already shown great resilience at such a formative age, we are excited about their future, as they will make a mark in our country. 

Well done Class of 2021. 

The Triumphant Class of 2021

The Triumphant Class of 2021

By: Delphino Machikicho

Minister AG Motshekga accurately described the 2021 matriculants’ academic experience when she said, “…the Class of 2021 will remember their Grade 12 year as one of challenge and triumph. The challenge was coping with the unknowns of new Covid-19 variants and managing its subsequent effects on learning. The triumph was overcoming learning loss and maintaining high academic discipline. The results of the class of 2021 is a triumph for the learners who participated and the society that supported them.”

Our Ikamvanites certainly triumphed and they deserve to be celebrated. After two years of disrupted learning and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of the COVID-19 pandemic they would have been forgiven for calling it quits. However, we saw their resilience and commitment to education. Our tutors were the Superheroes throughout the year. They provided not just quality academic support but displayed a high level of pedagogy of care. The results are a reflection of the amount of effort that was exerted throughout the year. 


The blossoming of the Atlantis branch is a marvel to witness, they achieved a record-breaking 100% pass rate! Even more impressive is the 90% tertiary eligibility that the Atlantis grade 12 learners attained. The leadership of the Atlantis branch persevered through the teething pains of the branch growth and now they are reaping the rewards. The tutors that have created a family environment make the branch so welcoming for all learners. The collaborative spirit of the school leaders from all our feeder schools has been humbling. We even have some of the teachers that sacrifice their Saturdays to come and tutor with us. The Atlantis Principal Committee has been supportive and we constantly glean from their wisdom. 


If consistency was a branch, then it will be Kuyasa. Again this year, they achieved a 100% pass rate with all the 31 learners eligible for tertiary education. The branch has harnessed the power of peer-to-peer learning in their Big Friday sessions where learners collaboratively attempt past exam papers under the watchful eye of the amazing tutors. 


The Makhaza branch significantly improved its pass rate to 78% from 66% in the previous year. There is an all-around improvement, the number of learners eligible for tertiary education improved by 30%, this cohort has 71% of the learners eligible for tertiary studies. Enormous effort has been made by the branch staff and tutors to have an upward trajectory with the learner performance. 


One of the heart-warming stories from our 2021 cohort, is the story of Uthandile from the GugsComp branch. She had joined our program in 2020 mid-year when she was in Grade 11. She had failed Grade 11, but the school progressed her to Grade 12. Throughout 2021, Uthandile persevered through the year with great diligence towards her studies. She attended all tutoring sessions, where she struggled she called on our ever-present tutors. Now she received her final grade 12 results and she achieved a Diploma pass. Uthandile’s story is proof that after-school programmes are essential to bridge the education gap. In addition, the values of resilience and dedication are important for learners to achieve their desired results

The GugsComp (Gugulethu) branch operates like a well-oiled machine, they exemplify a holistic approach to developing a well-rounded learner. The partnerships that the branch has with organisations like Amandla Safe Hub affords learners access to sporting facilities, leadership and other life skills workshops. They managed to achieve a 92% pass rate with 50% bachelor passes and 28% diploma passes. This is an improvement from the previous matric cohort that achieved an 89% pass rate. 


The Nyanga and Masi branches also performed exceptionally well with 81% and 84% respectively. Both branches have been consistent over the year assisting learners to achieve quality passes. The Nyanga branch has had an admirable mentorship partnership with 2U, this partnership has given learners a rare opportunity to learn from 2U employees. One of the top-performing learners at the Nyanga branch Sihle shared, “…we couldn’t come to school but IkamvaYouth was helpful as they formed WhatsApp groups. We would bring difficult questions to the group and the tutors would help us. This helped us to continue with school when schools were closed. 


We also had online mentoring and sometimes face to face. My mentor would ask questions about my career and they would help me to make choices about my tertiary journey. My mentor also couriered Maths Mind Action textbooks for me because I was struggling with Maths. I would like to say thank my mentor for their wise words, patience, and keep on helping others and may you be blessed.”

As the Western Cape region, we are delighted by the great results our learners achieved. The improvement year on year is evidence that the continuous improvement of our model and implementation yields results. We have had subject advisors training our tutors to improve their facilitation skills, this has given our Superheroes more artillery in their arsenal. We are confident that our learners will continue to triumph and get even better results. We appreciate all our partners that walk this journey with us, may we not tire to empower the children of Africa to attain dignified livelihoods.

Lloyd Lungu

031 909 3590
2525 Ngcede Grove, Umlazi AA Library, 4031

Lloyd is a self-disciplined and highly goal-driven Industrial Psychology Honours graduate. He is currently a Master's candidate completing his second year of M.Com in Industrial Psychology at the University of the Free State. Lloyd joined IkamvaYouth as a learner in 2012, after matriculating he came back and volunteered as a tutor for the duration of his undergraduate studies at UKZN. He later worked as an Intern in the Chesterville branch. His passion for youth empowerment and inclusion has grown enormously through his time and experience gained within IkamvaYouth and has inspired him to provide career guidance to young township people. He is currently working at the Umlazi Branch as a Branch Assistant.