Awarding and Celebrating Education Excellence

“Whether fees fall now, in future or never, we as young patriotic South Africans will never stop working hard to help improve our country’s education system.”

Those were the words of the Pretoria based Activator Duncan Mufamadi at the inaugural high school academic excellence awards Olieven Academic Awards at Olievenhoutbosch, held at the Steve Tshwete Secondary School in late October.

The ceremony was hosted by Memories For Eternity & Projects (MFE), which is co-owned by Activator Duncan Mufamadi, Mpendulo Mlambo and Zabulone Msoja Mhlope.  The event’s main aim was to celebrate and encourage high school academic excellence and counter negative rhetoric that is associated with young people more especially high school learners in the Olievenhoutbosch Township.

Activator and Chief Director Duncan Mufamadi explained the logic behind the Olieven Academic Awards. “In many predominantly black communities throughout South Africa (my community included) there are numerous negative activities, so called ‘cool things’ that lure youth into lots of social ills like crime, teenage pregnancy, theft, drugs, harmful substance and alcohol abuse. Within the same communities there are many remarkable young brave geniuses who are doing very well for themselves despite poverty, dysfunctional families. So as concerned young people and members of MFE, we decided that we will not join the ongoing finger pointing or blame shifting game that our leaders are doing. We decided to take action to address this issue”, said Mufamadi

“We figured education can brighten up the community. So we decided to use that as tool to challenge and change the status quo. Therefore, starting education awards for high school learners became one of the viable and innovative ways of addressing South Africa’s social ills at the grassroots level. Celebrating ordinary hard working kids will always be a good affirmation to those who are doing well and positive inspiration to those who are trapped by negativity.”

The event was attended by a great number of learners, parents and community members from Olievenhoutbosch and nearby townships. A handful of prominent individuals in attendance included African Business Speakers Bureau Sbusiso Molimi, author and motivational speaker Sanele Zulu and Prominent SABC television presenter, public speaker and entrepreneur Mokholwane Kgaugelo, who was also the program director.

Partnership and support was provided by Olievenhoutbosch SAPS, Ebonoko Foundation, Sibusiso Molimo, Sanele Zulu, and the Youth for Survival Crew Lerato Boqo, Buhle Sikhosana and Tshegofatso Choene.

Two interesting concepts that engaged youth were the teenage pregnancy dialogue and the various motivational talks.

Renowned academic experts applauded event organizers. Free State University Vice Chancellor Jonathan Jansen extended praise to the youth who initiated the event. He also went on to express his support and interest in contributing to the success of the Olieven Academic Awards “I am delighted to learn of your projects. Given the low functionality of our poorest schools, almost any intervention makes a huge difference. I would love to support you,” said Professor Jansen.  

Revered education activist and philanthropist Andisile Best urged the public not to view the Olieven Academic Awards as a once-off event, but as one of the viable tools to address overall education challenges of the country from the roots.

In the closing remarks, MFE thanked all attendees and strategic partners, and pleaded with leaders from all spheres of society to support the awards. Dates for the 2016 Olieven Academic Awards will be confirmed in the New Year.  

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