IkamvaYouth’s annual winter schools launched on Monday 14th June 2010. Amidst much flag-waving and vuvuzela blowing, ikamvanites (IkamvaYouth’s inspiring learners and volunteers) are closing the gap created by an unequal education system in crisis.
Over 500 learners from some of South Africa’s most disadvantaged areas – Khayelitsha, Masiphumelele and Nyanga (in the Western Cape), Ebony/Ivory Park (in Gauteng) and Molweni and the greater Cato Manor area (in KZN) – are spending 2-weeks getting the grades, information and support they need to access tertiary education and employment. Joining them are over 100 volunteer tutors, mentors and workshop facilitators. IkamvaYouth’s volunteers are mostly university students (many of them former IkamvaYouth learners), as well as international volunteers (from Brazil, USA, France and England) and subject specific professionals. Some winter schools could really do with more tutors (the more tutors, the better the tutor:learner ratio; Ikamva aims for a 5:1 ratio, but is not reaching this target at all the winter schools.
IkamvaYouth is holding five holiday programmes, hosted by 3 universities – University of the Wetsern Cape (UWC), TSiBA, and Durban University of Technology (DUT) – the Masiphumelele library and the Siyakhula Centre in Ebony Park. All have generously availed their facilities and support free of charge. Very Ayoba!
“IkamvaYouth is a by-youth, for-youth innovative grassroots response to South Africa’s education crisis. The Ikamvanites give us hope and make us feel inspired and proud,” says IkamvaYouth chairperson Leigh Meinert.
The schedules are packed with small-group tutoring sessions and up to six different workshops occurring at each winter school simultaneously. During the mornings, the focus is intensive academic intervention which is critical for improving learner achievement. Tutors work with learners in small groups, and provide real-time feedback in response to areas of difficulty identified through mock exams and testing. The afternoons are filled with a range of enriching workshops and excursions. This year, ikamvanites are engaging in computer literacy classes, science pracs and workshops on a range topics including leadership developoment, HIV-awareness, creative writing, photography, debating, yoga and numerous other interesting activities such as online video conferences with Brazilian youth (the next hosts for the World Cup 2014). Learners will go on excursions to interesting places including Kirstenbosch Gardens and the Sci Bono centre. They will attend and participate in talent shows, photography exhibitions and soccer matches.
More impressive than the scope and quality of programme delivery are IkamvaYouth’s results. In a country where the far majority of learners achieve far below grade level, IkamvaYouth’s matric pass rate has been between 87% and 100% each year since 2005. More than 70% of the last two matric groups gained access to tertiary education (compared to the township average of around 5%).
“South Africa’s education challenges are not insurmountable”, says IkamvaYouth co-founder Joy Olivier. “The world has watched us build world-class stadiums, and I’m hoping it will continue watching as we ensure our schools have libraries, science labs and windows.” While the World Cup highlights South Africa’s extreme inequality and contradictions, it is also bringing people together. It’s reminding us that amazing things happen here, of our unity and the fact that we can make a massive, consistent noise with vuvuzelas. We’re not only hosting the world, we’re developing the people who are going to make it a better place.
To get a sense of the vibe, watch this short film made at last year’s winter school in Gauteng:
To be a part of this life-changing experience, contact the coordinator of the branch closest to you. To see what’s happening there, download the schedules for: