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: firstname.lastname@example.org