A godless morality

The outpour of moral outrage and heated debate has blanketed our nation yet again, and surprisingly it is not President Jacob Zuma this time around; but at the centre of the storm is the Grace Bible Church’s guest Bishop Dag Heward-Mills and television personality Somizi Mhlongo. They are at the centre of the storm because they represent broader and highly divisive branches of human identity; namely religion and homosexuality. Obviously this debate is not new, nor are its arguments. 

Religious institutions (Churches specifically) will argue that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’ and wrong because God said so in the bible while the homosexual community will argue that it is only God who can judge their lifestyle and it was never a choice but they were born the way they are. This is how this debate has intractably carried on for the last forty years leaving a trail of victims in its path. The debate will continue polarising society until we start challenging the basis from which we view morality as a nation, and particularly the use of God’s name in justifying moral judgement.

Following the social media storm after Bishop Heward-Mills’s sermon, a young man asked a very pertinent question which led me to start interrogating our view of morality; he said “If a pastor justifies his homophobia by saying its God’s word, does that mean God is also homophobic”? I found that to be a very deep and profound question which was quickly and almost instantly labelled as blasphemy. The challenge with the Christian church and general society when it comes to morally charged debates like the one currently facing our nation is that we seem to be using God to reinforce what is clearly human prejudice, we associate our moral convictions with God.

The placement of God at the centre of the moral argument and the constant appeal to a divine moral authority makes debates and conflicts intractable because it invariably throttles any alternative viewpoint; it furthermore makes nearly impossible to revise any moral position because God is consistent and doesn’t change according to scripture, this makes it extremely difficult for the church to deal with new moral discoveries. The same can be argued for the appeal to religious scripture to justify hate and homophobia, religious texts as much as they carry great values over centuries, they have the unfortunate tendency of freezing time and carrying along historical prejudices as well; the status of women in the church being a good point of reference. It has taken centuries for women to be afforded certain rights in the church that despite scriptural prohibitions on women preaching or being ordained for an example.

I am of the opinion that we need to remove God as the motive and benchmark for morality, so that we can move towards a view which former Scottish Anglican Bishop Richard Holloways terms a ‘Godless morality’. If we remove God from our view of morality how will we measure right or wrong, how will we regulate the humanity’s galloping carnality and man’s predisposition to corruption? A creative morality is the answer according to Bishop Holloway, one which is based on our collective humanity (Ubuntu). Ubuntu places us on the other person’s shoes; it encourages a compassionate and empathetic approach to human experiences. Ubuntu tells us that regardless of what scripture says human beings can never be compared to animals because the contradistinction itself impacts on the dignity (isidima) of another.

I am of the strong view that we can never claim to be fighting for justice or driving change in society and yet be silent on the injustices on sexual minorities, the two are indispensable. The same vigour and robustness we employ when calling out social oppression should be employed when fighting what is in essence gender based violence.  Richard Holloway eloquently summarises it when he says; “if the rule or scripture gets in the way of our humanity bend the rule or disobey it”. 

Photo credit: Buzzle

Active advocacy for human rights

Name:Lerato Morulane

Province: Gauteng

Facebook: Lerato Morulane

Lerato Morulane is a 21 year old Youth Development Advocate from Pretoria. Her Advocacy focus in the Youth Development Context are in the areas of SRHR,HIV prevention, Substance abuse prevention, LGBTI Rights and Youth participation within the Sustainable Development Goal, African Unions Agenda 2063 and United Nations Secretary General’s Global Strategy on Women, Children and Adolescent health 2015-2030.

Why did you decide to be part of the ACTIVATE! Network?

The network consists of young people and it will provide a platform for information sharing, opportunity and also assist me to grow in my spheres as I will have people to support me in my projects or initiatives.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

The project funding models and the LEMON leadership as it assisted me to focus more on my strength and what I should change in order to champion what I do

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

It showed me that we are a network and connected whether you are in the health department or social at the end of the day we are focusing on one goal which is making the world a better place for us and the future generation

What do you think the role of the youth is in developing the country?

The young people with energy and wisdom is to ensure that they secure a good future for the future generation, question the system and come up with better solutions for the injustices happening in the world.

What is your field of interest?

My field of interest is Human Rights and I am determined on pursuing an LLB Law degree, with ardent intentions to obtain a Masters in Law with a focus on International Human Rights Law

How are you driving change in your community?

I serve as the Administrative coordinator of AfriYAN Eastern and Southern Africa at Southern AIDS Trust and Youth Chapter Officer at Access Chapter; Youth Consultant and Chairperson to the National Campaign for Young Women and Girls SHE CONQUERS which was launched by the deputy president on the 26th June 2016 and a member of the students and youth network, JUPHASA .I further serve as the member of the steering committee on the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STI’s 2017-2022. I have advocated for the establishment of a Youth Friendly facility in my township also instigated an anti-drug march with the assistance of local NGO’s in my community and I was part of the team that drafted the national school policy on teenage pregnancy. In November 2014, my persistent advocacy bore fruit when at 19 I was appointed as the best Ke-Moja coach in Gauteng by the Social Development MEC, then at 20 I was appointed to serve as the Youth Representative for the National Campaign for YWG, in which I made significant contributions. With all that said I have managed to assist in changing some of the policies and numerous contributions in the communities in South Africa.

Now that you have completed training, how do you plan to keep active in the network?

I plan to continue sharing the information with the network and the members of the public, avail myself for motivational and inspirational talks.

What are your plans for this year?

To continue working with the Network and other networks that I sit in, start with my Law degree and my foundation.

How will you be involving the network in your plans?

I will ask them to be part of my talks and share information that they have capacitated me with, with other people

Additional information you would like us to know?

I am an arti-vist (artist and activist) and I would like to encourage other young people to pursue that route also I believe that in the next coming years I will be the chairperson of the African Union.

Education, a service to Africa

Innovation in education would definitely mean a greater service to Africa. Many scholars have come out, stating their vote of no confidence in the current standard of education in South Africa. This, as a result of government’s attempt to lower the passing mark in different subjects, instead of finding better ways of teaching and learning the subjects that are of great importance in the education system.

However, a concerned citizen would obviously ask him/herself, “Aren’t there enough resources to equip the most disadvantaged pupild in the system? Aren’t there enough skilled educators and specialists for the potential problematic subjects? Or is it just that learners are not so enthusiastic to learn and progress? Or perhaps government is not paying enough attention where is it required the most? These are the questions that we (South Africans) need to ask and answer on our own. 

I’m 100% sure that the phrase “Innovation in Education” has not popped up for the first time; almost every concerned individual includes it in conversations around education, whether directly or indirectly. However, has there been any progressive solution addressing this?

Liso Ntuli, a young innovative and result driven educator at the Haven Academy Private School in KwaZulu Natal says: “Innovative models of teaching and learning should start at the foundation phase. These teaching models should be in a sequence that they tie together till grade 12. Firstly, changing educators every now and then has its own effect on the progress of learners. I believe that if I take my grade 8 class in 2017, I must take it through grade 9/10/11 and 12 in 2021 simply because I will be investing in these learners, and it will be easy for me to get to know their primary and secondary needs, on a classroom level. This also helps in building a teacher-learner relationship where learners trust you, knowing that you have their best interest at heart.”

Ntuli continues: “The problem with the education department is that it no longer listens or includes teachers in its planning. How can you plan for teachers without teachers? For instance, we have people from the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) who sit in very important committees where issues of learners and teachers are discussed at length, and the funny part is that none of these people are in the classroom to experience or have evidence of what happens there. This is where the problem starts.”

“This also differs in which school do you render service, if you are in a private school, then you are bound to use more practical examples of what you are talking about. Majority of private school goers are fortunate learners that are exposed to social media, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Google scholar and more, and all these require internet connection, of which internet becomes one of the priority resources the school will make sure it has, so that learners and teachers can access it for teaching and learning purposes,” adds Ntuli.

“Looking at things from a public school perspective, first you must look at the major barrier which is language. Most of our learners in public schools are not lazy, rather they simply struggle to make sense of what is written in English. Mind you, the learners in the private school that I teach at, they learn every subject in English, and the fortunate part is that English is their mother tongue. What about the black learner from kwa-Mashu primary who is subjected to learn almost all his/her subjects in English, which probably is a 2nd or 3rd language, and the only time they become free, and excited to express themselves and understand the classroom work is only when they are being taught in isiZulu which is approximately a 30-45 minutes period a day. 

“Government must also force retirement to current teachers for ages above 55-60 years. There is a lot of young graduate teachers produced every year, majority of them cannot get into the department of education’s system with their fresh minds and innovative teaching methods. Things are no longer the same, we need to change things so that everyone benefits equally. There is no excuse not to have computer labs in every government school with fully functioning internet. The textbook approach is no longer helping, most relevant and educational things happen on-line,” concludes Ntuli

Photo credit: OhmyIndia.com

Impacting the corners of the African continent

Name: Athenkosi Nzala

Province: Western Cape

Facebook: Athenkosi Nzala

Twitter handle: @AthenkosiNzala

Instagram: a.nzala.jly

“I am not the same as I was before I came to ACTIVATE!, my appreciation will be practising what was given to me, and give it to others.”

Athenkosi was born in the Eastern Cape Province and came to Cape Town to study Civil Engineering at UCT. He is passionate about education and mentorship. Athenkosi’s desire is to impact the corner’s of the African continent and the world with a variety of education through a united effort of key role-players.

Why did you decide to be part of the ACTIVATE! Network?

To be action and solution driven and add value to my continent

What did you enjoy the most about training?

Re-imagening Africa. Getting to be groomed as a leader, unlocking my potential.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

I see Africa in a new way, I have so many ways of doing things. The resources exposed to us are amazing, there are no words to describe the support I have.

What do you think the role of the youth is in developing the country?

Unlearn societal norms as well as the perception we have been given of Africa. Start to learn ways of engaging communities to know what challenges they face, and take actionable steps in finding solutions. The youth needs to realise their power when they are united and not alone.  The youth needs to be present and engage because we are natural enablers.

What is your field of interest?

Policy and Infrastructure framework of Africa.

Education of Africa

How would you like to drive change in your community?

As Afrika Can Foundation we help nearby schools with social and academic education

Now that you have completed training, how do you plan to keep active in the network?

By attending events by ACTIVATE! and Activators as well as involve them in my own projects.

What are your plans for this year?

Complete degree

-Continue with AfrikaCan Foundation

How will you be involving the network in your plans?

By asking for advice and expertise

Stop the hullabaloo of the first day of school-Time for action in education is now!

 

Limpopo never ceases to amaze me, but then again, little amazes me lately. 

In the not so distant past, teachers cum politicians took umbrage at the invasion of schools on the first day of the academic calendar by politicians of every stripe. The teaching professionals are continuously pushed to the side as people who know almost nothing about teaching take centre stage, taking selfies to splash their flambouyant lavish lifestyle to powerless people who don’t care.
 
Political office bearers, our so-called ‘honourable members of institutions’ from the Presidency down to the ward councilor find their ways to one school or the other, where, with the media in line, make pronouncements to appease the vote-chunk polishing their empty egos. This tendency adds little value, if any to the learning journey, unfortunately. Politicians visit schools on the first day and then disappear for the entire year, making another appearance the following year. 
The teachers can only start work once the politicians and the cameras vanish. Whose line is it anyway, we should ask?
This spectacle is a low-blow guilty admission of the fact that the education system in our country has become vain. 
There should be no need in a functioning system for non-education people to invade schools on the first day, ostensibly to ensure that teaching takes place on the first day of the school year. 
Frankly, education is one of the biggest failures of a democratic project-dispensation in South Africa. That failure wastes legions of our young people and robs the economy of the skills that would otherwise be produced. 
Indirectly, that failure is responsible for the high crime rate South Africa suffers. How do we expect the youth we fail to educate to make a living?
If we visit our immediate neighbours in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana, we won’t find this junk-party on the opening day of schools. There is also no festivity on the occasion of the announcement of the results of their grades because they’ve integrated systems that work effectively and efficiently for their sustainable development.
 
Even in our own country, this occurance is a recent development. The fact is, things were not done like this when our forebears traversed the educational journey. Should we then institutionalise and celebrate mediocrity at our cost? These practices of officiating festivals to announce the matriculation results and the visits to schools on the first day of the academic year were started after the advent of the democratic project attempting to cure the educational system of the ills brought about by the massive involvement of students in the liberation struggle. 
Stakeholders in education lost control of the youth, resulting in the school system which is characterized by chaos, ill-discipline and dysfunction. No wonder we’re reaching the status of a ‘welfare-nation.’ Unfortunately, this is the price we’re paying for having our youth leading the struggle for freedom: free education etc. In fact, we’re still recovering from that legacy and the hang-over lingers in us because we’re battling to reconcile. 
Due to that history, and the fact that pupils are easy to mobilise, some adults resort to using pupils whenever they have a quarrel with the authorities, unfortunately! A typical case in point herein is the Vuwani situation in Limpopo.
Instead of indulging in this annual festivity at matriculation results announcements and the opening of schools, we should be knuckling down to the task of building systems that work. That would ensure that schools start properly as a matter of course, without drama. 
The system should be run by professionals, who naturally would be accountable to the parents, communities and the department of education. Among others, we need to sufficiently strengthen the district offices. The district officials, who are educational professionals, should ensure that schools open on time, that they have capacity to deliver on their mandate without excuses. The district managers should ensure that the physical state of the schools under their jurisdiction is acceptable and assess the quality of work done in their work space. 
Presently, the South African classroom is miserable. Neither the principal, the district manager, the superintendent, the MEC, the Minister of Education, nor the President can tell you what is going on in the South African classroom. Despite the fact that most of them, have little to nothing to show in academia. Should we be surprised?
We should consider fixing our education system as a matter of national priority at the highest level. Judging from the national behaviour, it’s evident that we have all agreed that education is a potent weapon with which we can effectively tackle rampant poverty, unemployment and inequality. Attempts to fight these potential fatal defects in our society without solving the education problem would fare just as well as attempts to draw a woman with one breast. 
One of the consequences of a continued feeble fickle public education system might be the steady growth of private education from kindergarten right up to university in South Africa. 
For others among ourselves who are proponents of public education, such a prospect is a bane that keeps us awake at night.
Education makes it possible for children of peasants, workers, the intelligentsia and the middle classes to interact and learn together. Perhaps we should remind ourselves of the communist and socialist ideology on this. It reduces socio-economic spaces within our various social classes, fosters solidarity and understanding, whilst diligently holding the costs of education reasonably affordable for all. 
An ailing public education system forces parents, even struggling ones, to dig deep into their pockets to send their offspring to independent schools. It is thus in our national interest to fix our education system, not through unnecessary once-off annual festivities, but through a robust functioning system for a positive course of the well being of the nation.
Koketso Marishane writes as an active concerned citizen.
Photo credit: Park Brook Elementary

Self-leadership: Mastering my fate

I was born and raised in a small village called Lubisi, 53 km away from Cofimvaba- a rural area deep inside the Eastern Cape. At an early age, we moved to Mthatha were I did my lower grades up to grade 12 were I obtained my Matric certificate at Zingisa Comprehensive High school. During that time, I was still a student at Zingisa CHS where I was exposed to many opportunities such as debate, leadership and sports, arts and culture activities furthermore to give service to my fellow community members. As part of my journey, leadership and communication is one of my strong points and I am passionate about and have a longing to help young people, more especially in high schools in disadvantaged communities to acquire these skills, self-worth, importance of investing in yourself, be your own leader not a follower and help them transform into better citizens who are driven by the vision to serve their communities.

The most important thing in becoming an exceptional leader is the ability to lead oneself, the ability to make right calls for your own life, not just for those that maybe considered you a leader. I believe self-leadership starts first and foremost with integrity within the leadership context. Leadership integrity is about making the right decisions and living with them while taking full responsibility of the consequences that will follow after whereas, the majority both young and old are not ready to man-up and face the outcomes of the decisions they have made all blame this and that but not themselves, hence it triggered me to start looking on how can we can address this issue in our society. I believe many of our great leaders’ struggles with oneself. Although some of the leaders that we look up on for guidance and wisdom struggle publicly they do so in much bigger ways. Issues such as anxiety, confidence, pride and the personal time management are the things that dictate how decisions and knowing the difference between managing and leading which is another topic for another day.

My calling for leadership has allowed me to serve in many organisations and structures such as – Area Director 2015/16 and Division Director 2016/17 serving Toastmasters International District 74, serving in student political formation as chairman and secretary Pasma KSD TVET College also being in debate society of the above mentioned college lead by Honourable Madam Chairperson Zilungile Zimela who fosters the articulation skills, stage presences and most of all the importance of communication and language to students and varying audiences. All leaders need some mentors such as Tobo Tabede who is a life coach, Dr Zoleka Ndamase an innovation and development specialist, Paul Jensen a communications and leadership expect to guide and lead them to the right direction and not to lose focus also to be invited to be part of global youth network Activate! Leadership as an ACTIVATOR, a change driver.

My greatest achievement to date is seeing someone that I have interacted with the kind of impact I have had on their life in making them the best possible versions of themselves in comparison to our first encounter contact and lastly to see my brother and sister grabbing every opportunity they come across acquiring and developing skills that will help them and sustain them to be better citizens.

Photo credit: Miles Welch

Limpopo school ranking under the spotlight

At the beginning of every year, thousands of people gather at a certain venue to listen to the MEC for Education in Limpopo announcing the grade 12 results. Amongst the thousands are, politicians, religious leaders, chief directors and directors in the department of education responsible for schools, teacher unions, principals, teachers, SGB’S and many invited stakeholders and academics. To add to the list, media, both print and electronic is invited, in particular, the three main radio stations in the province, which are: Thobela FM, Phalaphala FM and Munghanalonene FM. So, millions get to read and listen to this announcement. This was the case on 05 January, 2017.

The list of guests and listeners of radio, to readers of newspapers, suggest that the intelligentsia of the province and beyond is exposed to the grade 12 results. What baffles me, is that no one has ever questioned the criteria applied to select the best schools in the province. 

Rather, one academic or statistician in the province, has not scrutinized the reason why one school in the province could obtain position one for more than a decade. It is worth noting that, it is the only one with that record, in the whole country! Even the media, which is supposed to be the eyes and the ears of those that cannot see and hear, is unable to correctly analyze this anomaly.
My question is: “Is it by design or omission that Limpopo Department of Education continues to deny other schools, to fairly contest the position of the best performing school in the province?” Any criteria used to determine the best in a group, should be fair and objective and not designed to favour others or give others an advantage over competitors. This is the case in point in case of Mbilwi High School. Seemingly, the trend of this unjust criteria is about to perpetuate into independent schools. 
The Limpopo Department of Education, claims to recognize best performance through the number of bachelors obtained. This reason alone, is a farce! It should be, the number of bachelors obtained against the number of learners who wrote. I will come to the specifics later! When the Minister of Education, Mme Angie Motshekga, announces the best performing provinces, she does that based on the overall percentage pass. She, however acknowledges those provinces that produced a higher number of bachelors. 
This criterion is also used in Limpopo, when it determines the best Districts and Circuits. It is only, for the reason best known to the Limpopo Department of Education, that the same criterion is not used in the selection of the best schools in the province. To use the overall pass percentage, gives all provinces, districts and circuits a fair chance in the competition. Provinces, Districts and Circuits with few number of candidates, example; Northern Cape Province and Waterberg District in Limpopo, are given a fair chance to compete, otherwise, they would forever obtain the last position if this Limpopo criterion is used at those levels.
From the background given above, let me demonstrate the specifics:
Below is the Limpopo Department’s positions of the best independent schools in the province:

Top 3 Independent schools 
This category recognises schools that obtained the most bachelor passes. Each of these schools must have a minimum of 50 or more candidates that wrote examinations.
Position Wrote Bachelor District Circuit School
3- 83 81 Mopani Nkowankowa St George College
2- 118 92 Mopani Ma?ombe Nkwangulatilo Education Centre
1- 603 277 Capricorn Pietersburg Northern Academy
This suggests that all independent schools with 50 or more candidates will be treated the same, but this is not the case in determining the best. With this above criterion, there is no way, both number 2 and 3 could compete with number 1, simply because, their candidate numbers differ! So, Northern Academy will always win! If we were to use a fair criteria, which according to me, would be, the number of bachelor passes against the number of candidates. This would show the percentage of bachelor passes per school. Below is how the table will look like:
Position Wrote Number of Bachelors Percentage District Circuit School
3- 603 277 45.9% Capricorn Pietersburg Northern Academy
2- 118 92 77.9% Mopani Manombe Nkwangulatio Education Centre
1- 83 81 97.5% Mopani Nkowankowa St George College
The above table shows a fair and just criterion to judge the performance of these schools. It indicates the percentages of bachelors obtained by the schools, regardless of the number of candidates. (All of them have 50 or more candidates) 
This is how it should be done and not what Limpopo Department of Education wants us to believe. If you look carefully on the performance of Northern Academy, you will realise that, more than half of their candidates (326) did not obtain bachelors! So, how does it becomes the best! If you were to consider all the results of independent schools, you may find that, it is not even the third best in the province in that category!
Let me now show the MBILWIFICATION of results as the ‘undisputed best performing school’ in the province. The table below, is also as presented by Limpopo Department of Education:
Top three public schools in the Province in terms of Bachelor Passes
This category caters for top three schools in the Province with 50 or more candidates and in terms of bachelor passes.
Position Wrote Bachelor District  Circuit School 
3- 250 188 Capricorn Pietersburg Hoërskool Pietersburg
2- 367 196 Vhembe Tshilamba Thengwe Secondary
1- 406 220 Vhembe Sibasa Mbilwi Secondary
Congratulations to these schools that continue to make us proud!
Let me also reproduce this table, as per, what I insist, a fair and just criterion:
Position Wrote Number of Bachelors Percentage District Circuit School
3- 367 196 53.4% Vhembe Tshilambe Thengwe Secondary
2- 406 220 54.1% Vhembe Sibasa Mbilwi Secondary
1- 250 188 75.2% Capricorn Pietersburg Hoerskool Pietersburg
This table indicates how the positions of these three schools would be, if the correct usage of the criterion was fairly and justly applied. It means that, both Thengwe and Mbilwi could not even be amongst the best three in the province given the percentages of bachelor passes they produced. 
This, I am sure, has been the situation for the past decade, where everybody was made to believe that Mbilwi was and still is, the reigning champion of Limpopo schools! What a big lie! It is said that, “A lie repeated several times, may become the truth”! Was this the intention? I hope those that have long realized the unfairness of this criterion, were not discouraged to perform better at their schools.
On the basis that, I have the best 20 performing schools as provided by the department, one would attempt to reproduce the best three schools with 50 or more candidates! The table will look like this:
Position Wrote No of Bachelors Percentage District Circuit School
3- 144 96 66.6% Waterberg Thabazimbi Hoerskool Frikkie Meyer
2- 250 188 75.2% Capricorn Pietersburg Hoerskool Pietersburg
1- 119 93 78.1% Sekhukhune Groblersdaal Hoerskool Ben Viljoen
If I was a white person, writing about this, the obvious reaction, would be that, I am racist, because I am black, I run the risk of being called ‘anti-revolutionary, anti-transformation and intransigent’! But, because I do this, to correct a ‘mistake’ which happened for over a decade and nobody seems to give a damn, I am not worried. People must know the truth. 
The above schools are former model C schools, which are presently referred to, as quintile 5 schools. If I would assume that, the purpose of the dreaded criterion used by Limpopo Department of Education, is to give the rural and township schools an advantage, then we are doing it wrongly. We would rather categorize our schools in quintiles, as they do when results are announced nationally not this utter prattle of a criterion. We would then have the best schools in quintile, 1, 2 and 3 and then the best in other quintiles.
I have realized that in 2016, Dendron High School registered more candidates that it has never registered. I hope this was not in an attempt to compete with Mbilwi! All the years, Mbilwi registered around 400 candidates. The other school is Makgoka High, which, in terms of Limpopo, is number 14, with a pathetic 20% bachelor pass percentage! Who should celebrate this mediocre? 
Let me give an example: In a PSL league log, if two clubs were competing for position one, and before their last game they were equal in points and goal difference, and in the last game the other one wins by 8 to 7 goals and the other one wins by 3 goals to 0, you cannot say the first one wins because of more goals. The fact is, the latter’s goal difference is 3 and the other one is 1, regardless of the number of goals scored.
In conclusion, it is important that the Limpopo Department of Education acknowledges this horrible mistake and rectify it from the coming Class of 2017! Lest we become the laughing stock of the nation. Those that do not believe this, may go back a decade and analyze those results.

Koketso Marishane is a member of the Polokwane Youth Development Forum, Black Mangement Forum Young Professionals, National Youth Development Agency,  International Youth Council South Africa, Independence Commission Africa, African Youth Commission and Activate! Change Drivers among others. He writes as a concerned citizen.

Giving back through education

Name: Katlego Motlabi

Province:Gauteng, Soweto

Facebook:kmotlabi5@gmail.com

Twitter handle:@motlabikat

Katlego Motlabi describes herself as passionate about children and their educational development. She is a mother to a soon-to- be 6 year old boy. She aspires to be a social worker and has served with City Year SA in 2009 and Grass Root Soccer 2010 as a life skills coach.

Why did you decide to be part of the ACTIVATE! Network?

As a result of having to drop out of UNISA due to financial difficulty I thought that rather than staying home a programme such as ACTIVATE! would grow my skills and knowledge.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

The networking and the sessions that we did helped me realise that my way of thinking can be broadened if I engage with people who have the same passion but different way of thinking.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

I always thought that things are very hard to be done especially serving the community but after meeting the Activators and seeing what they do in their respective communities made me realise it is all possible. I have learned that I should not only want to see change but I must be the very element of change in my community and country.

What do you think the role of the youth is in developing the country?

The main role is ACTIVE PARTICIPATION. As young people we are quick  to claim things but never willing to work hard to get them. We should involve ourselves in programmes,campaigns and programmes involving the youth as the saying goes ”NOTHING DONE FOR US WITHOUT US.”

What is your field of interest?

Social work majoring in psychology.

How are you driving change in your community?

I am part of ‘MyTownship School’ an organisation that serves schools with physical education programmes in line with the basic education curriculum. I am also a children’s church teacher at my local church. I would love to start a ‘ Prepare A Child For Higher Learning Education’ programme by introducing high school learners to the lifestyle,career choices and what to expact at varsity or in a college environment.

Now that you have completed training, how do you plan to keep active in the network?

Taking part in activities that the network has,working together with other Activators on their projects and involving them in mine.

What are your plans for this year?

Major major one is to go back to Unisa to finish my Social Work degree

How will you be involving the network in your plans?

If the organisation has any sponsors or programmes that can allow me to get financial assistance in a form of work,volunteering or sponsorship I would engage the network for such.

ACTIVATE! has opened the door to my imagination and now I plan to put action to my ideas and ambitions.

Tackling The State Of Youth Policies

 “Our youth are not failing the system; the system is failing our youth. Ironically, the very youth who are being treated the worst are the people who are going to lead us out of this nightmare.” –  Rachel Jackson

Young people don’t enter early adulthood with an inability to carve out a life for themselves that would see them contributing to society positively. Empowering a young mind is said to be the pivotal to inculcating active citizenry and in a country that has played host to a long history of disenfranchisement, the urgency to independently review policies aimed at youth development in South Africa is now long overdue.

Statistics South Africa notes that the South Africa’s population is largely made up of young people (approximately 60% of the population consists of people below the age of 35) but that a large proportion of this part of the population is unemployed and plagued by poverty and crime. Yet governmental policies aimed at improving their lives and are still marred by a number of seemingly insurmountable constraints.

Over the past five years, South African President Jacob Zuma took the opportunity to mention programmes aimed at the development of South African youth in his State of the Nation Addresses (SONA) – but primarily in passing. An event which marks the opening of parliament by a reflection on what the government has achieved in the past year, the SONA is meant to be an incisive message to the South African public around the initiatives the government is putting in place to ensure the continuance of nation building.

In his 2014 SONA, President Zuma noted that “although South Africa is a better place to live in now than it has ever been, the country still faces the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment”, all three of which are inextricably linked to the lives of young people – an admission he had made in his SONA two years before.

In 2016, President Zuma “urged businesses to partner with new manufacturers including businesses owned by women and the youth” and interestingly, he did not mention programmes aimed at the development of youth in his SONA in both 2013 and 2015.

South Africa has a long history of institutional, policy and legislative instruments that have and continue to contribute to youth development. Policy research suggests that over the course of the past eight years, the government had in fact introduced a number of programmes which are meant to actively or indirectly target the development of young people in South Africa. These policies and interventions include:

  • The NYDA (Act) 2008;
  • The National Skills Accord (2011);
  • The Basic Education Accord (2011);
  • The Youth Employment Accord (2013);
  • The Employment Tax Incentive (2013); and
  • The National Youth Policy (2009 -2014 & 2014-2019).

Livity Africa campaign manager Ziyanda Stuurman maintains that many of the South African government’s policies and programmes are well-intentioned but  because of the macro-political environment and other constraints, they have been inadequate in the type of targeted interventions needed to address youth unemployment – a key challenge the government is trying to address.

Stuurman says examples of constraints around policy making to this end include the strained negotiations that characterised the drafting of both the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) and the National Youth Policy with political players such as COSATU and big business. “In essence, both pieces of policy relied heavily on the State for implementation as an employer and focused greatly on State intervention to the detriment of providing clear pathways into the corporate sector for young people,” she said. In addition, the ETI was introduced in 2013 which may be the reason why the President both in 2013 and 2015 would not have focused on youth employment schemes as the policy was meant to be a “silver bullet” of sorts. Stuurman says that in those years, the policies would have been monitored and evaluated so it may have been prudent not to comment on youth employment interventions before seeing the outcomes of this intervention first.

Is the National Youth Development Agency working for the youth?

One other crucial intervention aimed that has come under scrutiny is the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) which came about as a result of the NYDA Act. Launched in 2009, the NYDA’s primary aims include the design and implementation of programmes aimed at improving the lives and opportunities available to young people. A recent Wits University graduate Nthabiseng Nooe says she doesn’t think the NYDA is working. “With the new direction of offering grants to young people to do business – and therefore work their own way out of poverty – they do no significant ground work in making sure they are sensitive of the people they want to work with. Nooe cites the story of young businessman Shane Sekano who visited the NYDA offices in 2011 to enquire about the requirements and processes for funding a start-up. Sekano explains that he did not have a registered company, business bank account and SARS tax number. “The receptionist looked at me like a nuisance and offered no assistance and that was the last time I bothered to go there. The intimidation that comes from stepping into big funding organisations, whether from the government or private sector caters to how successful one becomes. The environment ignores the reality that the people who are in dire need of funding are often new to such settings, and a level of sensitivity is required.”

In a recent assessment of the successes, challenges and failures of the NYDA, the latter showed that a lack of coherent co-ordination of activities, duplication of responsibilities, fragmentation and lack of clear mandates led to implications in terms of accountability, monitoring and evaluation, etc. In policy terms, this seems like a recurring problem within South African government structures. Stuurman agrees, saying that a large part of the challenge in streamlining South Africa’s economic opportunities and policies has been a very low level of coherent coordination across the board. “With the departments of Trade and Industry, Small Business Development, Economic Development, Treasury and Labour all performing overlapping roles and fulfilling mandates that are times unnecessarily confusing, it is difficult for government to make sense of all the work that needs to be done and this is true of investors and youth employment schemes. All of the abovementioned departments and others are involved in stimulating youth employment but very few are speaking to each other on how to do that in a collaborative manner.”

So where to from here? Helen Suzman Foundation researcher Anele Mtwesi  says the mere fact that the current youth cohort is the best educated, the healthiest sector of the population, are technology savvy, have high hopes and aspirations for the future, and have the ability to influence political processes and civic life makes them a powerful force in our society.

She agrees with other policy research institutes who have found that there is a need for an independent set of annual evaluations of youth programmes which would not only provide policy and decision makers with useful information on the degree of fulfilment of intended aims and objectives, but also reinforce transparency and public accountability. “This would do a lot to restore young people’s trust in public policy and youth institutions,” says Mtwesi.

Photo credit: Kim Barlow

UNESCO MGIEP to launch YESPeace Network in South Africa

Cape Town—UNESCO MGIEP and Activate! Change Drivers are jointly launching the YESPeace Network- Southern African Region on January 26, 2017. This endeavour is aimed at strengthening the YESPeace Network (Youth for Education, Sustainability and Peace Network), which is a global ‘Network of Networks’ of youth organizations/networks, young educators,  practitioners, trainers and students working in the area of education for peace, sustainable development and global citizenship. After India and Malaysia, YESPeace South Africa will be the third country/regional level initiative of the Network.

Prior to the launch, Activate! Change Drivers and UNESCO MGIEP will be jointly organising a strategic workshop from 23-25 January 2017 at Cape Town, South Africa with youth organizations and youth from the Southern African region with an aim to co-create a roadmap for the YESPeace Network in the region.

In 2016, the YESPeace Network ran two successful international strategic workshops in New Delhi, which saw young leaders/practitioners and civil organisations from over 34 countries. The workshops fostered cross-border collaboration, knowledge sharing and co-creation of potential future projects/activities.

About the YESPeace Network:

The YESPeace Network is a collaborative effort, to transform education and ultimately achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially Target 4.7.  It aims to create a critical mass of young people who envisage a more peaceful and sustainable society and become active crusaders for achieving the SDGs.

As a Network of Networks, the YESPeace Network along with its partners aims at:

  • Mainstreaming youth voices into policy making at the national /global level to embed Education for Peace, Sustainability and Global citizenship in Education and Youth Policies. The YESPeace Network will provide a channel to bring forth the collective youth voice to policy makers and enhance the access of youth in the arena of policy making.
  • Empowering youth to take the lead in designing innovative projects around non-formal and informal learning by providing them opportunities through tools and agency, which will serve as a foundation for building more peaceful and sustainable societies.
  • Building capacities of youth, youth organizations, groups and networks working with youth in the area of education for peace, sustainable development and global citizenship.
  • Connecting youth and youth organizations from various fields – practitioners, researchers, policy makers, both virtually and also in the physical space – and building a culture of knowledge sharing and mutual collaboration.
  • Creating spaces for dialogue across  key topic areas and drive a new narrative for education for peace, sustainable development and global citizenship.

About UNESCO MGIEP:

The UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (UNESCO MGIEP) is a Category I Institute of UNESCO. It was formally launched in 2012 with the support of Government of India and UNESCO with the mission to build capacities of Member States and strengthen policy to foster inclusive and transformative education of peace, sustainability, and global citizenship in formal and non-formal teaching and learning. The Institute specializes in research, knowledge sharing and policy formulation in the area of education for peace, sustainability and global citizenship.

About Activate! Change Drivers:

ACTIVATE! is a network of more than 2000 young leaders driving change for the public good across South Africa. Members of this network, Activators, are connected by their passion, skills, sense of self and spark to address tough challenges. They are actively initiating innovative and creative solutions that can reshape our society.

Article was first published by: UNESCO MGIEP

Relevant web links:

http://localhost:8888/activate/

http://mgiep.unesco.org/yespeace-network-workshop-youth-demonstrate-strength-in-diversity-offer-solutions-for-a-peaceful-shared-future/

http://mgiep.unesco.org/a-voyage-of-discovery-yespeace-network-international-strategy-workshop-2016/

http://mgiep.unesco.org/at-unesco-conference-on-internet-and-youth-radicalisation-youth-voices-though-few-remained-the-loudest/

http://mgiep.unesco.org/unesco-international-conference-on-the-prevention-of-violent-extremism-through-education-taking-action/

Contact information:

—Abel Caine, Senior Project Officer: a.caine@unesco.org

—Piyali Sarkar Debnath, Programme Officer: p.sarkar@unesco.org

 Date/Time

Date(s) – 26/01/2017
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Location
Hotel Vineyard

Categories
Workshop  By UNESCO MGIEP

Motivating learners to strive for success

 Project name: Grade 12 Motivational Tour

 The Grade 12 Motivational Tour describes their project as helpful, awesome, innovative, demanded and great.

Activators involved: Kenneth Rapetsoa, Kholofelo Mokgohloa,

Members involved in the project? Desmond kubjane, Johannes Malatjie, joseas Maake, Maphala Mamabolo, Thabiso Olifant, Samson Rathobotha, Blessing Makoela, Lekau Johannes.

When was the project started?

2014 

Who started the project?

Mankweng Cluster Youth Development

What motivated the initiation of the project?

The Grade 12 results motivated us to start the project. We had to reflect on the results and we agreed that there can be other issues causing young people not to work hard. We had to look at those issues and how we can address them.

What is the objective of the project?

To see young people excel in their education while overcoming challenges.

We provide them with motivational talks, personal coaching, mentoring, afternoon classes, winter school, extra classes, distributing sanitary towels to the ladies who need them most, pencils, pens and rubbers. We hand out calculators to the maths and science students but this is done only when we have enough.

Why is this project needed in your community?

Young people need to be reminded about the potential they have and must release it to conquer obstacles. At times, they are not told this so they go to school with a negative mind believing that they are not the best. Through this project we want to encourage them so that they can approach their studies with positivity. 

Who have you assisted through this project? What does this assistance look like?

We have assisted a lot of young people in different schools to achieve higher marks and beat the odds stacked against them.

 Do you think your project encourages leadership? In what way?

Yes it does as it calls for one to achieve his/her goals. Giving pupils the tools to know what works for him/ her. It calls for one to stop following the crowd and walk his own path. If one can do it, so can all. That is making responsible change.

Do you require funding/sponsorship for this project to be a success?

Yes

Name some of the challenges you face?

Transport issues to travel to schools around my community. We have to catch taxis at times and at times we are late to some schools who don’t take us seriously if we arrive late. Sometimes we borrow cars from our friends so that we can carry our stuff to school to make it easy for us to present whatever we are offering.

Donations of the follow sanitary towels, pens, pencils, rubbers and calculators for maths and science students.

 Name some of the successes?

We handed out sanitary towels to the needy students in different schools. We also provided school stationary to a couple of leaners. Motivating school teachers and learners to perform well and they do. They always come back to us and tell us how well they did. Assist Grade 12s to apply to universities and bursary. Hosting winter school and extra classes.

Where do you envision your project to be in 3 years time?

In 3 years time we hope to assist 50% of all the high schools in my community in any way we can to make sure that they achieve great results.

In an ideal world, your project will achieve success if….?

We work hard and dedicate ourselves to the success of it. Not to depend on other people to assist us or the government to fund us.

Get in touch with Lekau: lekaujohannes@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students with funding have their say

“Two promises I would like to make: 1. Wits won’t increase fees next year (2017) and 2. We will achieve free education in 2017.”

These were the words posted on Facebook by the controversial Wits student leader Mcebo Dlamini shortly after the announcement by Wits Vice Chancellor to increase fees by 8%.

With university registrations already on the go, students that do not have funds to register are anxiously awaiting what leaders have in store for them in the coming weeks.

Even though the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has given students a second chance to apply for funding, from the 9th until the 20th of January, the sad reality is that some students will be without funding when the academic year officially starts.

This whole situation is very emotional for those who are directly and negatively impacted by the ridiculous fees we see in some of our universities. But do students that have private or bursary funding feel as strongly about the movement?

How are students that have other forms of funding affected by this? We hardly hear their opinions and almost always assume that they don’t participate in the movement.

Pheladi Makgeru, second year law student at the University of Johannesburg, and Makungu Mabunda, final year BSc student at Rhodes University, gave us their opinions:

“Fees Must Fall has affected my mentality and attitude towards life on a large scale. A lot of people see it as a distraction or a hindrance to our education when the  demonstrations are taking place. If anything, it has given me insight to the inequality and the power that capitalism still has over the mainly black society. I am now aware of how a student’s economic future and career goals can be hindered by the lack of funds . The poor are locked out and have no direct access to higher institutions, and if they do it’s usually through a bursary, a student loan or through NSFAS. Bursaries are mostly reserved for the academically gifted and those who aren’t have to resort to loans, which only sets them back financially after they complete their qualifications,” said Pheladi.

Makungu further touched on the financial setback that higher education puts on financially needy students, even after obtaining their degree.

“NSFAS is a loan given to the poor. A loan is a burden on its own. A poor person has black tax that they need to pay once they start working. A poor person must fix the situation of the place they are from once they start working. If you are poor and on NSFAS it means that you are probably going to start your life nicely ten years after university. The poor should get free education not a loan, that’s if we are trying to balance the unjust of the past,” he said.

The importance of the movement is seen by everyone, without a doubt;  those who have funding and those without. With consistent effort from the students, the fight will be won.

It is pretty clear that the financial aid from the government is only helpful while the recipients are still in university, after that it becomes a burden. That is why the fees must fall movement is fighting for free education instead.

Nothing great happens overnight. Although the movement hasn’t achieved free education yet, it definitely has achieved a few things.

“Before Fees Must Fall, Rhodes University registration was 50% of your fees, this means one was required to pay +-R45,000.00 in January. That’s a lot! It was an institution excluding the poor. And by the end of the second term/block you were required to pay all your fees. Now it’s 10% for registration which is reasonable,” Makungu mentioned.

Other universities have also put in place measures to include those who lack funding. Wits introduced a first fee waiver where students that do not have the first fee payment of R9340 can still register, but fees are still expected to be settled by the end of March.

The Fees Must Fall movement shows us that you cannot wait for the world to hand things to you, sometimes you have to fight to get what you want, especially in this country where the voice of the poor and needy is hardly heard.

We haven’t heard anything from the movement as yet, but with such a strong closing to the year last year, 2017 certainly has a lot in store for us. With the influx of more students into higher education this year, it is only safe to assume that student leaders are just quietly preparing for the fight right now.

Even if free education isn’t achieved this academic year, at this rate, it will definitely be achieved in future.

For now, let’s wait hopefully to see if Mcebo’s promises will be kept.

Ramadimetja Makgeru writes as an Activator, journalist and student.

Future Leaders and Young Great Minds

 Project name: Future Leaders and Young Great Minds

Prince Nofoto describes the project as cultivating and grooming of youth development.

When was the project initiated?

The project was initiated in 2013.

Who started the project?

I solely initiated the project and in due course I was joined by a few who later departed the project.

What motivated the initiation of the project?

The motivation was seeing children who had no jerseys during winter walking to school, not wearing anything warm.

What is the objective of the project?

The objective of the project was and still is about bringing positive change in the lives of the youth. I aimed to empower the youth both academically and in life by eliminating the element of ignorance that saturates the impoverished community. Generally, I pride myself on being a facilitator that mobilises awareness.

Why is this project needed in your community?

The need for the project lies in its objectives, being the cultivation, groomers and nurturers of youth development. These are drivers in the elimination of social issues and injustices that our community at large faces. I personally believe poverty is a circle that remains hard to break, but together we can.

Who have you assisted through this project? What does this assistance look like?

First and foremost, family, friends and neighbours have also provided me with a strong support structure. Religious organisations and the REKGONNE Warriors team, whom deal with victims of rape. The assistance being in the essence of mobilisation, that is providing me with the masses.

Do you think your project encourages leadership? In what way?

It certainly does in that it liberates the minds of youth. It provides a platform for independent thinking and the voicing of ones views. Providing individuals with an opportunity to lead a particular division.

Do you require funding/sponsorship for this project to be a success?

We most certainly do. I do however feel funding is rather a prerequisite, because this project runs solely on my pocket and donations.

Name some of the challenges you face?

Unreliability amongst stakeholders; lack of resources like data, capital or space; approaching people who are amongst us that hold the perception that what we stand for is unsustainable. *Accommodation, for unfavourable weather conditions.

Name some of the successes?

Observing the change it brought upon people’s lives. The impact it has had on people is what sturs the fire inside me and pushes me to keep doing it no matter the obstacles I stumble upon.  

Where do you envision your project to be in 3 years time?

Three years from now I hope the project will be self-sustainable and efficient. It’s being diversified to accommodate more than the youth and the problems they face. I want it to be big to such an extent that though I may not be part of it, it can grow and finance itself.

In an ideal world, your project will achieve success if….?

If there is enough funding and the right parties involved.

Get in touch with Prince:

Cellphone: 078 136 7704

Email: princenofoto@gmail.com

Be the network!

Name: Angela Mogorossi

Province: Gauteng

Facebook: Angela Stoaney Mogorosi

Angela Mogorossi from Rustenburg is a dynamic and passionate individual who likes to take on challenges and thrives off continuous change within an environment. 

Why did you decide to be part of the ACTIVATE! Network?

I have always been part of youth networks within my community and through that I saw joining ACTIVATE! as an opportunity to further improve and build myself as an individual.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

The snake and ladder game. I thought it’s an easy game because we were the first team to win the game and it was a new record to the ACTIVATE! team ,only to find out that there’s a lot ahead of me. When we got to the second game I saw that I’ve been ignorant all this time because I got introduced to the map of Africa where I became more openminded.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

I’ve learned that everything is possible and that team work is the key to achieving success. I’ve  also learned that I matter and my voice needs to be heard, well not only me but the youth is the most powerful force within any country.

What do you think the role of the youth is in developing the country?

The role of the youth is to be vibrant and active to achieve development within the country at large, to work as a team and not forget humanity as it is the key to human nature. South Africa is moving towards a new era in which the young people are beginning to make their own mark, whether it be on a social or the economical stage and I want to be part of that.

What is your field of interest?

Social and economic development

How would you like to drive change in your community?

I would like to educate and inspire, to be someone that people can look up to for advice or motivation.

Now that you have completed training, how do you plan to keep active in the network?

I am the network! So I believe it will be impossible for me  to change who i am…I am the Change driver.

What are your plans for this year?

To reach my short term goal which is to run and manage a successful media company which I’ve already begun with my partners.

How will you be involving the network in your plans?

Basically what we busy working on shares the same vision with the network which is to connect,develop and entertain South African youth.

Matters under scrutiny

At the height of the 20th century with countless adversities overcome, the nation stands at the mercy of possibly one of the most anticipated State of the Nation Addresses since the late Nelson Mandela’s. It is at this point of our history where the nation has shown its solidarity on various issues of public concern, prominent issues like the appropriation of land, access and quality of education coupled with ‘fees must fall’ mass demonstrations, which vividly and actively expressed the level of dissatisfaction of the masses. 

 Although the intentions behind these mass demonstrations are noble and for the most part, just, the way in which they are exercised has left little to be desired.  One wonders what possible way forward our beleaguered government can take to restore peace and ensure equality for all participants involved. 

Not too long ago, our nation was hit hard by the gripping reality of the Marikana Massacre. Families were left destitute without fathers, brothers and breadwinners due to the fatal human brutality demonstrated by the South African Police Service (SAPS) towards the mineworkers at Marikana. Of course the Marikana Commission of Inquiry and our justice system have made attempts for justice between the perpetrators and the victims. Questions and mind battles still exist from the aftermath of the killings of the mineworkers in Marikana, considering the very evident fact that mining is considered to be one of the sectors that contribute to the sustenance of the volatile economy of this developing country whose history and happenings have brought many a time the world to its feet.

Sixteen years into the millennium and 22 years into democracy the nation still stands in eager anticipation of how much the ordinary tax payer has to fork out to chip into the financing of services such as social grants, child welfare, basic education, water and sanitation and the dissemination of public good medication such as ARVs.  More to the nerve of the request is how much of a priority young people receive as tabulated in the SONA and how much of that will be translated to rand value. We stand with ears wide open to hear what our government’s plans are to eradicate ‘home-boyism employment, unemployment, inequality, skills-development programmes and funding for the initiatives of young people.  Perhaps this time around our government and the forces that be have done enough research and left no stone unturned in terms of conducting thorough research about the primary needs of the young people of this country .

We can only hope again, that the most rural parts of this country with no running water or proper schooling infrastructure have also been considered as they also form part of the 59 million growing citizenship.   

This year’s State of the Nation Address will set the tone and stage on how the citizens of this country will approach the polls come 2019. If the recent municipal elections are anything to go by we can only but anticipate a very interesting, yet life changing national elections in the year 2019.  Issues like xenophobic attacks are still dark spatters on our vibrant flag and these injustices need to be dealt with progressively and diligently. The country in all its four corners is screaming for similar things, services are demanded, South Africans are crying out in loud voices demanding that all the promises that were made be materialised at the turn of the century.  

Help A Student educating the Eastern Cape

2016 Activator, Lisa Silwana from the Eastern Cape started the Help a Student programme with a few of her friends in order to assist learners from disadvantaged areas through education. 

The five words she uses to sum up the programme are: Youth led initiative, resilience, quality education, innovation.  

Help a student   

When was the programme started? 

The programme started in 2012 but was officially registered in 2013.

What motivated the initiation of the project? 

The project was motivated by the current state of the educational system in the Eastern Cape and how young people are victims of this system. The programme was then established to create a support system for the schools that are disadvantaged and looked to bring information closer to young people in the Eastern Cape. The programme then grew and looked into other social issues affecting young people such as sexual reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and human rights.

What is the objective of the programme?  

To create resilient communities with educated and motivated young people that do not allow their current situations to determine their future.   

Why is this programme needed in your community?  

The Eastern Cape is currently one of the disadvantaged provinces when it comes to education. There are so many brilliant students who do not have guidance, and the lack of accountability by officiails perpetuates the problem when it comes to poor education .Young people have lost hope because of the lack of opportunities which leaves them exposed to other negative factors.

Who have you assisted through this programme and what does this assistance look like?  

We have provided learners from the schools with career guidance, expos and information sharing and also assisted them with online applications, exam preparation and bursary application.

Do you think your project encourages leadership? In what way?

Yes, this project provides leadership in mostly young people so that they are able to identify issues that affect them and their peers and work on them. We also have beneficiaries that are now running the tutoring and peer to peer mentorship programme which gives young people  the ability to take charge of the change they want to see in their surroundings and also become each other’s inspirations.  

Do you require funding/sponsorship for this programme to be a success? 

Yes, we require funding but have been supported by churches and community partners to push this initiative forward. We mostly need resource support.

Name some of the challenges you face? 

Transport is one of the biggest challenges that we face and also the lack of food supplies for the mini tutorial camps for learners. The lack of support from the teachers in the schools is also a hindrance.

Name some of the successes? 

From 2013 -2016 we have  partnered with the department of social responsibilities and are mentored and supported by them. There are 6000 beneficiaries of the programme and have secured official partnerships with 14 schools while we work informally with others.  Forty students have secured bursaries through us and are at university at the moment. We have successfully established a safe male circumcision and sexual reproductive health rights club in 10 schools.  

Where do you envision your programme to be in 3 years’ time?  

In 3 years’ time we want our programme to be a provincial project and have support from the goverment, while we also want to increase the pass rate of young people. We also want to create a study centre for learners to drop in and study. We hope to see the current beneficiaries at work and giving back to the programme.

In an ideal world, your project will achieve success if…

It had support from the community and had teachers that were able to volunteer their time to learners for free. If the government could work hand in hand with us, young people would be able to give back and invest in the education of their peers.   

To provide assistance or contact Lisa for more information: lisasilwana@gmail.com

Twitter: @helpastudent15


Yolokazi Mfuto attends international conference in Ghana

When I first learned that I will be going to Ghana to attend the International Model UN conference in Accra from the 3rd -7th January, I was ecstatic! I knew God had answered my prayers and finally I was realising one of my goals. The experience in Ghana exceeded my expectations. Ghanaians are so friendly and kind to visitors, I will never forget their hospitality. I didn’t know that Africa was so rich with young minds eager to learn. The model UN conference is aimed at helping the youth understand and emulate the work of the United Nations so that we find a better way of discussing critical issues without violence or rage.

The conference was separated into committees which are entities of the UN. The committee I was part of is the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the topic we were discussing is: “Agri-business and rural entrepreneurship in eradicating poverty.” Over 20 delegates formed part of my committee where we discussed, debated and came out with resolutions that can be implemented throughout the world. Some of the discussions were based on empowering small holder farmers; how to deal with drought; educating the youth about the importance of agriculture and helping those who live in rural areas cultivate their lands.

I thought representing the country of Netherlands whilst coming from South Africa would be daunting, however I found it to be more educational. After this experience, I’m more knowledgeable about what is happening in Western Europe and what we can learn from them as a country. At the General Assembly, all 193 countries of the UN were represented including my beloved South Africa, however I was saddened when I found out that we were only two from South Africa. I hope next time there will be a big group to attend this prestigious conference.

My dream is to have a Model UN conference here in South Africa. I believe we also have the potential to host conferences of this caliber where delegates will be equally honored to attend. One thing I would love to let my fellow South Africans know is that: “It always seem impossible until it’s done.” So never stop dreaming but pause and wake up to pursue your dreams so that you can sleep better at night- It is all doable, let’s just believe.

Equipping the youth

Name: Albert Moholola (Manoko)

Province: Gauteng

Albert describes himself as a caring and disciplined individual who promotes morals, transformation and education.

Why did you decide to be part of the ACTIVATE! Network?

Activate creates an environment where young people develop solid individual and collective identities while improving their self-worth. It connects young people with valuable skills.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

I enjoyed the space where we as young people are given a space to talk about our lives. Topics from training were inspiring. The singing, dancing and playing games were great fun.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

Because of training, I look at a given situation from different sides.

What do you think the role of the youth is in developing the country?

The youth ought to promote the culture and interests of the country. We must take care of ourselves and teach the younger generation while having fun.

What is your field of interest?

My field of interest includes hygiene, safety and education.

How would you like to drive change in your community?

I would like to tutor learners and motivate them with their academics.

Now that you have completed training, how do you plan to keep active in the network?

I will attend ACTIVATE! events to consistently connect with Activators

What are your plans for next year?

I would like to be part of the corperate world or join the SWITCH programme.

How will you be involving the network in your plans?

Inviting Activators to events I host.

Compassionate leadership

Name: Singata “JOLA” Dabata     

Province: Eastern Cape

Singata describes himself as a reliable, loving, soft spoken individual who likes to help others in need. He furthermore explains that he is goal orientated, full of charisma, gentle in heart and brilliant. 

Why did you decide to be part of the ACTIVATE! Network?

The decision was made based on various aspects, looking at my involvement in leadership and there was a gap that needed to be bridged which was expanding my horizon. Furthermore, there was a need to trigger the spark within me to execute and be involved in my community while trying to find solutions on the socio-economic ills that we encounter in our day-to-day lives.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

In module 1, I enjoyed the session of a past collage which taught me to be at peace with my past and be able to let go. The importance of knowing your identity and being able to rely on your principles and values as you progress in your life is important.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

The training helped me in many ways on how to navigate in solving the problems using object cards, also to scrutinise the situations you come across and not forgetting to look at the background where most solutions lie.

What do you think the role of the youth is in developing the country?

It is high time for the government to give the youth a chance to be part of democracy and policy making as I believe that the youth are the future engines that will build, mould and bring life to South Africa. Young blood is needed in all spheres of government and society to move forward. The country needs young intelligent people filled with great ideas that will enable the development of the country. 

What is your field of interest?

Leadership. I am passionate about leadership and what I have discovered is that leadership is not just about being a leader and have followers, but it’s about collaborating your vision and goals together with those whom you lead. Another thing is that we need to listen to our people and not to think, on their behalf but have a joint venture and to ensure that all goals are achieved at the end of the day. We need leaders that are not self-centred who think of themselves but leaders that will give all to his/her masses.

How are you driving change in your community / How would you like to drive change in your community?

 

I believe change starts within. It has come to my attention that we need to start having conversations on where our starting point is. In my community, we started a cycling club targeting the youth to keep them active and stay away from drugs and alcohol and in that way we foster leadership, communication workshops and life skills development. In the long run, this will have a positive impact on the community with regards to dropping drug abuse and alcohol abuse thereby grooming future leaders that will steer the nation forward.

Now that you have completed training, how do you plan to keep active in the network?

 I plan to collaborate with other Activators and get involve with projects that comes up.

What are your plans this year?

 I plan to enrol for SWITCH and Community Development Course. Start my own company/NPO.

How will you be involving the network in your plans?

I will be inviting Activators and publicise the working that I do through social media platforms. I will also reach out to Activators that would like to collaborate on projects of common interest and most of all be the marking agent for ACTIVATE!

Facebook: Singata Titsi Dabata

 Twitter handle: @SingataDabata

Instagram:@singata_dabata

Enterprise Development: A key to black sustenance

I started out my business and passion for working with small businesses in 2010. My company at the time was involved largely in project management consulting. My company managed training and construction projects for clients. As I grew in this field, I then began to add business consultation to my services wherein I would offer after training support to businesses that were sponsored by corporate. The services included business plan development, marketing plan development, corporate branding etc. until I pursued projects I was managing myself.

I then secured a construction project with a business partner of mine which was when everything fell apart. Yet, at the same time, it was at this very trying moment in my business life that I found my purpose. I realised that the statistic that at least 8 out 10 businesses fail in their first five years of operation was based on surveys done in township and rural South Africa for the most part. That most businesses that were in suburbia and city centres were well supported and had the right ‘stuff’ to succeed.

I then dedicated two years of my life to researching the enterprise development space and understanding how it plays a role in shaping up economies where businesses are set to fail even before they started.

The programme

My programme speaks directly to the lack of sustainable economies in township and rural South Africa (predominantly black areas). Due to the amount of time it took me to do the research and to build the concept, the programme has not effectively started. Yet is now at an almost advanced stage. Commencement is a matter of signatures away.

The premise is simple really. Every business has an ecosystem. The most unfortunate reality for black small businesses in township and rural areas is that people are always doing business only where the lower hanging fruit are vast. This creates saturation of products and services and shrinks market share, which secures inevitable failure. So the ecosystem; take a very common low hanging (yet incredibly profitable) fruit, the KOTA; this is a very common business in black communities both in rural and semi urban areas. It is a meal that soothes the heart like nothing else can. Usually the business that makes KOTA is the often the only business in that area that benefits from this ecosystem. The ecosystem for the making of KOTA consists of the following: potatoes (crop farming), fish oil (crop farming and processing), meat products (livestock farming), cheese (agro-processing and milk) etc. let us decide these are what are involved as raw material to make a KOTA. The reality is that all these are still businesses run by white capital and very seldom are black people in these areas found playing in such arenas.

This programme seeks to create a disruption in ‘business as usual’. The programme’s end goal is to see townships, semi-urban, and rural areas across the country building businesses that play in the ecosystem of every product and service they consume in order to create sustainable economies that are thriving, employing and building communities all at the same time.

I personally believe that the single greatest root cause of many a mankind’s ills is or can be directly linked to a lack of financial resource. When communities have the ability to produce, when they own means of production in order to gain financially as their white counterparts do, when they are in a position to create their own economy and, a rand can safely circulate within a given community (rural or semi-urban) at least more than 6 times, then only will we realise what a truly free nation looks like. And then we will celebrate the greatest achievements of human endowment in these residential demographics.

Enterprise Development is the salvation of small businesses. Socialism is the real wave pushing towards a truly free nation. 

Facebook: Nhlanhla Ndlovu

Twitter: @Ndlovu_N1

Cellphone: 076 689 6231