‘Before I thought my life was doomed, but now I am loving each and every moment’
The above quote was taken from a student’s evaluation, and displays the extraordinary impact of Ikamvayouth. Ikamvayouth is an educational NGO focused on raising South African youth out of poverty. Only 10% of South African youth access higher education and young people from township situations constitute only a fraction of this percent (SAIRR,2009). Ikamva hopes to free young people from the grasp of poverty by equipping students with the capability to achieve their potential. This is done by delivering five programmes; tutoring, mentoring, career guidance, e-learning, and HIV/AIDS prevention. The most recent initiative, partnering with Masiphumelele library, was a careers indaba that took place as a holiday programme over 2 weeks from June-July. It took children, grade 9-12, from their heavy holiday slumbers and brought them to Masiphumelele library for a carefully planned and executed series of presentations, speakers, workshops, outings, and tasks on the theme of ‘careers’.
The lamenting cries about the early starts and long days were quickly quashed. The rich selection of speakers andinternational volunteers from Worldteach added to the novelty of this educational experience. The commitment of the students was reflected in the 92% attendance over the 2 weeks. The indaba was not treated as an unwanted obtrusion into their holiday time, instead it became part of that holiday and was viewed fundamentally as a place of fun. It brought teenagers in Masi together in a safe and exciting environment: ‘I created relationships with others, I am more confident, I know what I want in life, who I am and where I stand’. The power of the indaba and the role Ikamva play in the lives of these young people cannot be understated.
The success of Ikamva goes far beyond the quantitative measures of an increased matric pass rate and improved
higher education enrolment rates, which alone are hugely impressive – Ikamvayouth’s matric pass rate has been between 90 and 100% each year since 2005, and more than 70% of the last two matric groups have gained access to tertiary education (compared to the township average of around 5%) – However, the tutors and mentors are not merely providing academic support. They provide guidance, encouragement, and direction for the student as a person, not just for a student in the education system. This is the key to Ikamva; the ability to recognize and encourage individuality, which fosters an independence of character, a responsibility for achievement, and the ownership of their own future.
Tutors/mentors have a profound effect on the student’s self-belief. A self-belief which is so often jeopardized through overpopulated, under- resourced schools and perpetuated by societal expectations of township youth. Having individual attention and encouragement has given students the confidence to share their stories, to voice their opinions, to ask questions, to explore their ideas. It has given them the confidence to ‘become someone I want to be in life’ and to ‘be a role model for the next generation’. The individual impact of Ikamva is important but these impacts are invaluable for the future of South Africa’s youth.
We want to expand the minds of the youth, from all backgrounds, and enable them to enact real change for themselves and for society. Ikamva is working toward this future and you can be part of it too.
IkamvaYouth needs volunteer tutors for Monday and Thursday (3.30-5.30) and Saturday mornings (9.30-12.30). You do not need to be a teacher, all that is required is an enthusiasm and a knowledge of a subject area to matric standard. If you want to get involved but cannot commit your time, we are always interested in donor support, partnership formation and strategic collaboration. We also want to build on the success of the indaba and hold workshops throughout the term time. If you are a professional and wish to help us to organize events in certain subject/career fields, or think you could spare your time to conduct a talk for aspiring youth please let us know. We are also interested in any workshop suggestions.
Please contact Ikamva: Nico 0797603704, Zoe 0761207054, or Sue 0834762709
And visit the website for more information: www.ikamvayouth.org
Zoe Mann, volunteer