Debbie Weir said, “There is no ‘I’ in team’’; but we sure are glad there is ‘u’ in volunteers! Maintaining close relationships with volunteers is critical to any volunteer-driven organisation’s success. The IkamvaYouth Gauteng and North West branches understand the importance of volunteerism and embarked on a journey to appreciate the outstanding work of our volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the national lockdown started, our team has been working tirelessly with our volunteers to ensure our learners keep busy and are supported with their academics.
In true IkamvaYouth culture, volunteers’ work and commitment are celebrated yearly in different forms, as we witnessed in the 2019 Gauteng Gala and North West Masquerade ceremonies. This year things took on a different turn, due to uncertainty regarding when lockdown restrictions will end Online tutoring became our new normal. This sparked an idea from our District Manager to celebrate the work of our regional volunteers by arranging volunteer online appreciation week themed “suffocate them with love”. We dedicated an entire week acknowledging the region’s volunteers through sharing pictures, quotations, and spotlight articles that gave us a glimpse into the lives of our superheroes and “sheroes”.
All weekend long, followers of IkamvaYouth social media platforms were kept in suspense, wondering what the big hype was about as we began the countdown to the launch. The day finally arrived; Monday 29 June and we got the ball rolling from the first hour of the day. The ‘Gauteng and North West Tutor Appreciation Week’ announcement was made in style, on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It included a sweet introductory message of the week’s event from the region’s District Manager, Maria, and a picture collage with all our tutors’ faces on it.
Ever wondered why people volunteer? What it is like to tutor high school learners? Well, wonder no more! Our spotlight interviews gave you access to six awesome volunteers, namely Keletso (Mamelodi branch), Mzwanele (Ebony Park branch), Rebaone (Ikageng branch), Gopolang (Mahikeng Branch), Sarah (Ivory Park Branch) and Thabo (Diepsloot branch). The articles were structured in a “getting to know me” feel where we got to venture into their daily lives, aspirations, interests, and volunteering experiences at our branches. A fun fact from Mzwa’s interview, when asked if he were to be president for a day what would he do differently and his response was “Being president for a day can never be enough for me to change the country or implement anything, but I would enjoy my day in office with a cup of coffee, calling everyone I know, letting them know I’m head of state!”
Some of our tutors had this to say about the week:
“Being appreciated is always a very good feeling for one’s self-confidence. Seeing that you are noticed and recognised for the good things that you do for others is very pleasing. I think choosing social media to display gratitude is exactly how I wanted to be appreciated for a long time. So I feel very much honoured to be appreciated for a long time and on social media in fact.”
Odirile, Mahikeng tutor
“Honestly speaking, I am very happy, it is really a great feeling being appreciated where everyone can see. It actually gave me a sense of satisfaction, and I was able to realise that my time and efforts I spend with the learners mean a lot and that motivated me to work harder in assisting the learners. This is one of the best experiences I ever had.”
Gopolang, Mahikeng tutor
“Volunteer appreciation week made me feel very proud to be an IkamvaYouth volunteer – it was lovely to read some stories of fellow volunteers and tutors that I haven’t interacted with, as well as some words of thanks from learners. It made me feel very appreciated, to confirm the large difference that the WhatsApp tutoring is making for the learners during lockdown; which I am so glad to be a part of.”
Laura, Ivory Park tutor
“It’s been an exciting week for me, both North West and Gauteng branches came up with a brilliant idea that was able to reach us as volunteers. I feel motivated that our work as tutors is valued, even during these difficult times our branches have been able to show how much they value our work. Thank you for taking a week to appreciate us.”
Strongman, Ebony Park tutor
As we wrapped up volunteer appreciation week, we would like to say thank you for sacrificing your time, to assist the youth in our communities. Our Programmes Manager, Patrick had this to say;
“In every crisis or disaster situation, it calls for real nation builders to come forward and put their lives in the line to avert the impact of the crisis on humanity!! You are such nation builders! You have, like Tata Mandela forsaken your own comfort and have poured yourselves for the sake of the many Ikamvanites whose situation has been made more bearable because of your tutoring support. To us, you are nation builders, making history through your sacrifices! We thank you!!”
IkamvaYouth’s mission goes beyond just ensuring that learners pass matric, we also seek to ensure that learners access post-school opportunities that will set them on a path to a dignified living. Earlier this year, IkamvaYouth was proud to announce an 86% pass rate for our matric class of 2019. Not only did 86% of learners pass, 47% of the 2019 matric cohort achieved bachelor’s passes, unlocking access to study at university. We are excited to announce a total placement rate of 75% for the class of 2019. We are particularly proud of the 45% of Ikamvanites that have accessed tertiary education.
It is encouraging to note that a total of 211 of IkamvaYouth’s 2019 matric learners have secured tertiary placements, the highest number of tertiary placements achieved over the past five years. Furthermore, the percentage of tertiary placements achieved increased from 39.50% for the 2018 cohort, to 45% for the 2019 cohort.
Ikamvanites are enrolled in a wide range of courses this year, the most being enrolled in Business Administration & Management related courses, as well as Humanities/Social Science studies.
The diversity of career streams taken by the learners is encouraging, and it makes us proud to be supporting the learners to access these respective career choices. Without the support of the branch staff and mentors, some of these learners would not have had the chance to know the courses they are pursuing even existed. The following are just a few quotes from Ikamvanites, expressing their gratitude for the support in accessing their respective post-school opportunities.
IkamvaYouth would like to acknowledge the significant efforts of all branch staff and volunteers whose hard work and dedication has enabled placement of 75% of Ikamvanites. The continued support of our funders and partners is also greatly appreciated, as these partnerships enable IkamvaYouth to support learners on their path to earning a dignified living upon completing matric.
The COVID-19 virus is likely to hit those living in under-resourced areas the hardest. It is critical that we continue to ensure that our Ikamvanites can realise their potential by succeeding in school and accessing post-school education/work. Therefore, our work couldn’t be more important – even though schools are shut and we can’t run tutoring sessions. Tutoring will continue for learners with the use of online platforms, study material and support from parents to ensure that our mission becomes a reality. Our team is working tirelessly, from home to ensure that the organization keeps running smoothly.
Online tutoring strategy
We have adapted our service in line with current developments. Through the use of WhatsApp, we created groups for learners, grouped by grade and by subject streams, to enable academic support to continue. Learners are able to post questions and we facilitate learning using the virtual space. Schedules for learners have been put in place, indicating times from Monday to Friday where different core subjects will be covered, where each subject will run for a maximum of two hours, with learners posting questions, and tutors responding in real-time. Before the lockdown, we distributed study guides to students, so they may have study resources they can use offline, while they are home. Our branch staff are managing the virtual tutoring space, ensuring effective learner and tutor participation as they do at branches. We have leveraged our relationship with parents, requesting them to avail their phones to their children during this period.
IkamvaYouth internal response
The welfare of our staff is equally important to us. All staff members were briefed on the following; Maintaining high levels of hygiene, practicing social distancing, self-isolation in the event that they feel they might have been at risk, seeking immediate medical attention if any of the symptoms are showing. The staff has been working from home since the lockdown commenced and we have provided all employees with the resources they need to be able to work from home. Our goal at this time is to ensure all our staff, beneficiaries and tutors are safe and are contributing to curbing the virus through the various methods shared. Our mission, even in this time, is to continue to provide the support our learners need to keep their minds stimulated and prepare them for when schools open.
We encourage everyone to stay at home and practice good hygiene.
We are excited to announce that our 2019 Matric class had a pass rate of 86% across the five provinces we work in. Not only did 86% of learners pass, 47% of the 2019 matric cohort achieved bachelor’s passes, unlocking access to study at university.
We are proud that over the past 17 years Ikamvanites have maintained a pass rate above 80%. We believe in the power of after school programmes. With challenges of teacher-learner ratios in township schools, many learners leave the classroom without a basic understanding of concepts. IkamvaYouth’s after-school tutoring model has filled in that gap. In the past year, over 2,500 learners received tutoring at our 17 branches.
The national numbers have also been encouraging this year, and we congratulate the Department of Basic Education for the improved matric results across the country. It is great news that none of the 72 districts recorded a pass rate lower than 60%. The national average is a record-breaking 81.3%, shattering the 80% mark for the first time since 1994.
As we celebrate IkamvaYouth and the national pass rates, it is important to remember that there are still challenges facing the education system. A microscopic look into the celebrated national statistics reveals many blockages facing, especially, no-fee paying schools where IkamvaYouth’s branches are situated. One of the biggest challenges is dropouts. Dr Nic Spuall said in a Daily Maverick article: ‘Of 100 learners that started school, 52 made it to matric in 2019 and 42 passed and 19 qualified to go to university’. This means 62% of the learners that started Grade 8 in 2015 dropped out along the way and are unaccounted for in the 81.3% pass rate.
In a quote penned by Western Cape Member of Parliament Nomsa Marchesi, she says “the real pass rate is 38.9%”. With this in mind, we cannot stress enough the importance of investing in education if we are to make systematic changes in our beloved country
To put this into perspective, our branch in Diepsloot achieved a pass rate of 97% and tertiary eligibility of 83%. Comparatively, while the provincial average might have been 87.2% for Gauteng, zooming into townships reveals a different picture. Many children are pushed out at grade 11 and those that stay are not fully supported to achieve results that allow them access to post-school opportunities. In Gugulethu, for example, one of the schools where most of our learners come from achieved a 41% matric pass.
Our work therefore is to ensure learners are supported to stay in school, sit for their final exams, pass and access post school opportunities. Our branch in Ikageng show cased their commitment to uplifting communities through education by achieving a 98% pass rate with tertiary eligibility of 88%, securing the top spot across all 17 IkamvaYouth branches.
Our Gauteng and North West District Manager, Maria Sikaundi had this to say about the impact of the programme in these communities: “The matric class of 2019 did us proud, we are grateful to have been a part of their educational journey. These results are a true reflection of their resilience and dedication to their studies. We look forward to continued collaboration and support with our partners, volunteers and mentors to deepen our impact in the communities we serve”.
In the Western Cape, despite the stark disparities between the lower and higher quintile schools, IkamvaYouth branches performed well, achieving a 78% average pass. The top branches were Nyanga with an 85% matric pass, and Kuyasa with a stellar 95% pass rate.
The Atlantis Branch in the Special Economic Zone where we have partnered with Green Cape and GrandSlots, saw a 79% pass rate and 63% of the learners being eligible for tertiary. The branch had to overcome a myriad of challenges since its opening in 2016, and remains determined to see the learners in Atlantis break the cycle of poverty through education. Many of the past year’s matric learners in the branch have come back to tutor and support the current grades, which greatly assists as the branch is away from many colleges and struggles to find tutors.
Victoria from Atlantis branch had this to say “Since 2017, through IkamvaYouth I received all the support I need. Not only academically but also the emotional support I needed to be focused and achieve. Now I have a Bachelors pass and I am going to study B.Com Financial Accounting at the University of the Western Cape”
The school where our Gugulethu branch is based had one of the lowest pass rates in the Metro Central with only two schools below it. Against all odds, the IkamvaYouth branch learners did well. A learner from the school still in her excitement shared only this “I am so happy with my results and this year I, am going to be studying Mechanical Engineering at CPUT”. Zenande, Gugulethu Branch
It is stories like these that spur us to continue to impact many young learners in the country.
Chesterville and Umlazi branches in KwaZulu Natal had an average of 83% matric pass. An interview with one of the learners reveals the true impact of the programme.
“I joined the organisation in 2015. I was able to adjust and get to know more about the program. I was able to open up with the tutors and share my challenges. I received the support at IY and the tutors always pushed me to practice at home as well. This was the best remedy especially in subjects like mathematics. Now I’m preparing for my new journey at Nelson Mandela University,” Nosihle, Umlazi, Bachelor pass with three distinctions
With many thanks to our partners in the Eastern Cape, a province that has year on year produced low national pass rates, our Joza branch achieved a 70% matric pass. We are grateful to the dedicated team of tutors who took their time to come and pay-it-forward helping learners. A special mention goes to Rhodes University, for providing transportation for their students to come to the branch for tutoring sessions.
Our branches during the last term of the year assisted matric learners with applying for learnerships, college, university applications and other post-school opportunities. With the results out, we are proud to report that our Chesterville, Ebony Park, Kuyasa, Mahikeng, Ivory Park and Diepsloot branches all got over 50% bachelor passes and we wish all our matriculants well as they prepare to start different post-school vocations.
IkamvaYouth’s CEO, Hope Chidawanyika, had this to say about the results: “IkamvaYouth supplements the hard work being done in the schools in South Africa, by providing homework help, a safe place to go after school, and individual attention. These are small things with enormous impact on matric pass rates and future incomes. Thanks to the support of all our partners, we have been able to ensure that the learners, who join our branches, take flight!”
IkamvaYouth’s work would not be possible without the commitment of our tutors, funders and supporters. We would also like to thank our biggest donors for 2019: Coca Cola Beverages of South Africa, Estee Lauder Charitable Foundation, The ELMA Foundation, Capitec Foundation, Maria Marina Foundation, Cargill and many others.
As we begin 2020, a year that promises to produce great stories of success, growth, and resilience, we reflect on 2019.
We started the year by celebrating with the class of 2018 on their matric passes. Close to 500 learners were enrolled, and the cohort achieved an 81% matric pass rate, with a 68% tertiary eligibility. A highlight was our Diepsloot branch, which achieved a stellar 100% pass rate and an impressive 94% tertiary eligibility!
During the year, our after school programme impacted over 3000, grade 8 – 12 learners in KZN, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, North West, and Western Cape. Throughout the 5 provinces we operate, staff, volunteers, mentors, and parents worked collaboratively to ensure the improvement of the academic performance of our learners.
Winter school was held across our branches all over South Africa, where extensive tutoring sessions and workshops were conducted. Additionally, the students went on educational excursions, supported by our donors and partners.
In 2019, we welcomed six new board members to IkamvaYouth’s non-executive board, who brought with them the expertise needed to carry the strategic goals of the organisation forward.
Without the work of our volunteer tutors, our work would have been impossible. At the end of the year, we held tutor Appreciation celebrations in two of our regions. Over 200 volunteers gathered to celebrate the invaluable work they do for young people, and for IkamvaYouth to say Thank You!
We kept in touch with our alumni, who throughout the year shared their graduation celebrations. Alumni graduations are a reminder for us how the work we do now has long term positive impact, as the young graduates are able to contribute to the economy and also support their families as they get into the job market.
A young change agent, Nwabisa Ngumbela cycled 633km through South Korea, raising funds for the organisation. She reached her fundraising goal and exceeded her target. Thank you Nwabisa for your selfless sacrifice and may you continue to pay it forward.
Without supporters like Nwabisa, and many of the individuals, corporates, trusts, foundations and NGO partners, our programmes would not be as impactful. We thank you, and may you continue to be part of the solution to South Africa’s education system.
In two days, the wait will be over for the class of 2019 as their matric results will be published. They are already champions and we wish them the best for their future endeavours as they pursue the different post-school opportunities, and of course, returning as volunteer tutors.
We are excited about the year ahead, a year of continued sustainable growth, higher impact and success for our learners and alumni, and we continue to lay the foundations for future growth.
A happy 2020 and beyond to you all!