If you grew up in the 90s, you may remember Captain Planet and the Planeteers: the animated series about the superhero and his team of five youth from around the world, whose job was to defend the earth against various disasters, and educate mankind to prevent these from happening again. Climate change and environmental/conservation issues are a Global topic at the moment. South Africa is facing its worst drought in 23 years (City Press, 19 January 2016), with the worst affected areas being Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape, and the Karoo. It only makes sense therefore, that this first article in the series of IkamvaYouth’s “ Ikamvanite Careers Spotlight”, we focus in on our very own superheroes, whose passion is also to defend and protect the earth: Alumni in the Environmental sciences/management field. We caught up with two of them, to find out more about what inspired their interest in pursuing this field.
Nolwazi Hlongwane, who matriculated in 2010 is one such alumni. She joined IkamvaYouth Chesterville in 2008, and has completed her BSc Honours in Environmental Sciences at the University of KwaZulu Natal. She is now doing her Masters degree in Ecological Sciences, also at UKZN. Here’s what she had to say about what inspired her to pursue Environmental studies:
“Different environmental crises that were documented in the media motivated me to choose this career path. I wanted to understand different environmental forces and processes that are occurring in the environment as a whole and to understand what we as the youth of this country can do to save biodiversity for future generations to come. Well, as a high school pupil back in 2009 I didn’t understand much about environmental process taking place in the world we live in and what drives the great environmental changes we are experiencing today. I was just in love with nature and just curious about different environmental catastrophes documented in different media platforms and a bit of knowledge gained in geography and life sciences.”
We also asked her to share some insight into the current water crisis, and share some tips for what we ordinary South Africans can do:
“it is a global issue that needs to be dealt with by all parties… What we can do as South African citizens is to educate people about different environmental issues created by us, that are causing all these natural disasters such as drought and how we can live in a more sustainable way that does not harm the environment… Government needs to intervene and work with scientists in different fields… and to encourage the public to save water”
Another Ikamvanite doing amazing things is in the field of Environmental studies field is Sinethemba Kameni (also one of our board members), who matriculated in 2005, and has an honours degree in Materials Engineering from UCT. Sinethemba shares one of the highlights of his career, while working at Nampak:
“I worked on Homecare products e.g. your Handy Andy packaging materials. Most of these packs are made from recycled materials e.g. HDPE or PET materials. When I joined we were using 100% virgin material. I asked myself, why? As I knew, technically we can add a percentage of recycled materials and still achieve the same functionality. Plus we can save on cost. Furthermore, we had a strategy, Vision 2020, which is all about responsible sourcing and halving our pack materials by 2020. In 2015 we were sitting at about 17% although we should be at about 25%, so we were behind. That gave me the drive and a mission to contribute, and millions of Rands were saved. Besides the fact that what I did was aligned to my work goals, I am also passionate about the “green” concept. It’s just the right thing to do. I believe there is so much we can do and contribute to the world.“
We also asked Sinethemba to share some pearls of wisdom, with regards to what can be done to contribute to saving water. Here’s what he had to say:
“Water is one of our key resources. I believe educational programmes on how to save water, can go a long way. Global warming is real. Shower for 5 mins, use a glass of water when brushing teeth, ensure the tap is closed after using… these are small but big impact steps one can take at home level to contribute.”
This drought impacts not just on rural areas and farmers, but those of us in urban areas are also feeling its crippling effects, most notably through the significant increases in staple food items. As Nolwazi and Sinethemba have noted, we are all called to action to play our part in saving water. Education is noted by many in the field as the key to addressing climate change and environmental conservation issues. Yes, on an individual level, by equipping people with the knowledge and understanding of what they can do (e.g. reducing water consumption & waste, maintaining pipes & taps, planting trees, etc), but also on a broader level. Educational institutions and organisations have a huge role to play in developing environmental managers and scientists such as Sinethemba and Nolwazi, who will go on to make significant contributions to the field, and indeed, the world.
IkamvaYouth is so proud to have played a part in ensuring that these superheroes get to where they are in their careers. We hope they serve as inspiration for other Ikamvanites, not only those who are currently pursuing their studies in the field, but also those who are still in school, to consider careers in the environmental management/science field, and also become real-life Planeteers!
On the 6th of January 2016 (Matric results day) we had a laughter-filled chat with Chumisa Yaphi from Makhaza in the Western Cape. She obtained 6 distinctions (including in Maths and Physical Science) in the final exams and is planning on studying Geology or Pharmacy. Chumisa joined IkamvaYouth in Grade 9 and has been attending regularly for four years. Here at IkamvaYouth we couldn’t be prouder of her impressive results!
So, you got very good marks. 6 Distinctions, that’s amazing! Did you know it was going to happen?
No, when I was writing the exam, I wasn’t sure if I was doing great but I expected to get a bachelors pass. I just wasn’t sure what my marks would be. It was a big surprise when I checked my results from my phone and saw I had 6 distinctions.
What do you want to study?
I applied to study Geology or Pharmacy at UCT, UWC and WITS.
You aren’t worried that you’ll get into WITS and have to move far away?
(Chumisa laughs) No I’m not worried. (More laughter) It’s fine. I’ll look at what seems like the better offer and pick that.
What role did IkamvaYouth play for you to get these really good marks?
IkamvaYouth has helped me to be able to express myself in English, and be confident to share my views. It has also improved my computer literacy in terms of how to search for information. IkamvaYouth has also provided me with extra material like answer series study guides, question papers, online videos and material etc. That has helped me improve my grades. IkamvaYouth has given me opportunities to visit different universities to get a better understanding about my career choices. Through tutoring, I have gained the spirit of giving back because I see how dedicated our tutors are, they ensure that they take out their time just to come and help us. I myself also help my peers as much as I can and therefore i have been able to get understanding as I explain as well.
Did you apply for NSFAS?
Yes I did but I also got a scholarship from UCT
Well done! We wish you all the best.
Here are a few words from her mentor, Mike Mulcahy, CEO at Green Cape, when he wrote to IkamvaYouth about Chumisa:
‘I had nothing to do with her success, that was her hard work and the support that she has received from Ikamva, her teachers, her family and her own determination and hard work. I just wanted to say thanks for the opportunity for getting to meet and spend time with her. I am bursting with pride for how well she has done.’
As can be seen in our Annual Report 2014
was the year of growth for us: our matric class was 63% bigger than the previous year, we reached over 1,700 learners and we opened our tenth branch. But let’s not forget why we are here, for most of South Africa’s children, the only way out of poverty is through education. Ikamvanites (IkamvaYouth learners) continue to prove that anyone and everyone – irrespective of the school one attends and the socio-economic status of one’s parents can achieve his dreams and escape poverty.
Please read more in our 2014 annual report about the innovation of our model, why we need more Ikamvanites, hear from the Ikamvanites themselves and why our three largest donors of 2014 (Omidyar Network, Amalgamated Beverage Industries and Capitec Foundation) continue to support us.
It is thanks to these donors and many others that we have been able to achieve the results that we have over the last 12 years. South Africa’s future rests on the success of our children. IkamvaYouth is fundraising to reach even more of South Africa’s children in 2016 and needs your support. Please contact me if you would like to discuss supporting IkamvaYouth or find out more about us.
If you were asked to spell “conscientious” on the spot, chances are you would not get it right immediately unless you are a spelling geek. If you ever thought that spelling words out loud was as easy as writing them down, then think again. The grade 8s and 9s of Makhaza would definitely tell you this as they participated in a spelling bee competition, on the afternoon of the 07th November 2015, organized by one of IkamvaYouth’s SuperHereos, Lungile Madela.
The first round commenced with over 60, grade 8 &9 spellers, keen on taking the spelling bee champion title. There were 3 adjudicators for the day to assist with the process, namely; Yanga Totyi(Branch Assistant), Busiswa Wana(Intern), Lungile Madela(Tutor) and some of the tutors were present to support and cheer these Ikamvanites on. As the competition progressed, the number reduced as more spellers “fell” at spellings of words like “jurisdiction”, “randomly”, “trigonometry” etc.
The competition got intense when it reached the top 6 stage, with each participant attempting to out-spell the other. One of the top 6, Zizipho Paule (grade 9) said, “I underestimated spelling these words. When I received the preparation material, I browsed through it and it looked very easy until I was actually on that stage and I had to spell. I will definitely pay more attention to words now!”
We congratulate these “oh so eloquent” spellers who made the top 3:
3. Ntombozuko Zothe (grade 9)
2. Zizipho Paule (grade 9)
1. Lonwabo Ngozana (grade 8)
We live in a generation where innovation is an important aspect to the classroom; to make learning more enticing, to take the “bore” out of school and to leave a lasting lesson on the learners. Lessons learnt by the participants will go a long way. It is the “small” ideas that leave a ripple effect. Education goes far beyond the “teacher in front of the room” method. Education involves new and fresh ideas, fun, participation……innovation. It was remarkable to see an alteration in perspectives about spelling, something taken so lightly passively. The grade 8s and 9s will never look at spelling the same again.
On the afternoon of the 18th of August, 26 Ikamvanites in grades 9 and 10, made their way to Protea Heights Academy in Brackenfell, to the much anticipated HIP2B2 Innovation Challenge Information Event.
The 26 young innovators arrived at the venue and there was quite a tangible presence of excitement in the atmosphere as they got to mingle with other participants from several other schools before the event commenced. Right when the meet and greet was getting more and more fun, they had to enter the venue and the information event begun.
The young innovators were taken through the history of the innovation challenge, some of the bright ideas that past participants came up with, what it means to take part in the innovation challenge and mostly, how fun it is to be part of something like the innovation challenge. Next, they had to complete 3 challenges in a space of 1 hour and 30 minutes. In the first challenge they had to make a working water distribution system with 3 paper cups, straws, a sponge, an envelope and of course some water. This was quite a tricky and messy challenge for all the participants but there was a brilliant execution of ideas in the room and it just shows that these young minds are not afraid of a challenge.
For the second challenge they had to design a reflector jacket for teenagers that walk during the night, using black bags, tape and several other material. Just as the science was impressive, creativity also took over with some jackets looking like they came straight out of a fashion week runway. Innovation took up its definition in this challenge.
For the third and final challenge, the participants were given a piece of paper with a whole lot of shapes and they had to identify and count all the triangles that appeared on the paper. As we live in a fast paced era, this challenge required a sharp eye coupled with quick thinking and some participants were remarkably faster than others.
With so much energy and focus in the room, the event came to a halt and the young innovators were given entry packs to assist them with the process of entering and everyone seemed to be in high spirits for the challenge. The future is in good hands, these young innovators are truly the beacon of hope for this generation. We look forward to what they will come up with for the challenge to solve real problems that their communities face using maths and science. I believe that Steve Jobs was speaking to this bunch when he said, “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
THE BEST OF LUCK TO THESE YOUNG INNOVATORS!
Someone once said, nothing great was ever achieved from a comfort zone and this proved to be true when over 300 learners woke up early on cold winter mornings to attend IkamvaYouth’s 2015 Winter School.
The morning of 29th June was filled with excitement and anticipation when 320 learners and tutors from Makhaza and Nyanga branch journeyed to the University of the Western for their two week Winter School. An entourage of 6 buses arrived at 08:30 and the Winter School kicked off with an opening and welcoming, which was done by Busiswa Dayimani and Nokukhanya Mchunu, Makhaza and Nyanga Branch Coordinators.
The lecture hall was filled to capacity by energetic bright sparks who were ready to take on their academics and to channel all the energies in the room, the learners broke into song to officially start the day. The excitement generated, inspired some talented learners to perform some acts and Aaron Mzayiya, a grade 11 learner, performed a poem for the crowd, while another group of grade 10 learners sang their hearts out for the audience. The highlight of the morning, was being joined by Neptal Khoza from Capitec (Marketing and Corporate Affairs) as our guest speaker. He delivered a talk about the importance of having a vision for your life and the significance of having people that share the same vision in your life. These are a few words from the speech given by Neptal, “Having a vision alone is not enough, what you need to do is work on a plan, a framework, of what it is that you need to do in order to achieve that. That will include the time that you need to put into studying, the time you need to attend programmes such as IkamvaYouth, the time that you need to get as much information from various sources that will help you become what you want to be.”
The first week was filled with intensive tutoring, the days began with an assembly at 08:30, where the timetable for the day was shared and tutoring commenced from 9am to 4pm. On each day tutors were given flexibility in terms of changing the timetable to accommodate the demand from the learners. In every room you spot serious faces, confused faces, determined faces and ones so engaged in the learning process.
During the lunch hour every day the tutors and staff assembled for a feedback session, which allowed the identification of problem areas that needed attention for the smooth rolling out of the programme for the remaining days. In this way the impact made was greater as focus was shifted to the subjects that learners required maximum support in.
The second week kicked off amazingly, with most matric learners joining in the fun at UWC. The timetable changed slightly as workshops were included in the afternoon schedule. Many of the learners were filled with excitement and were in awe by some of the interesting facts shared about social media, leopards and financial skills amongst many. We would like to thank Capitec for hosting a financial skills workshop with our grade 11 learners. The Cape leopard Trust, Mxit Reach, R-Labs, Robotics, Sunstep and many other individuals who shared their insight in their various areas of expertise with our eager learners.
Last but not least a huge thank you to our tutors who were incredible in the management of learners and tutoring sessions, their dedication to the mission and goal is recommendable.
We admire the time, the effort, the dedication and passion that was shown by the learners, volunteers, guests, workshop facilitators, caterers and everyone who was involved to ensure that Winter School was a success.
What an exciting event to experience!