With South Africa’s education system constantly making headlines for the wrong reasons, Activator Kefilwe Bopape is in the spotlight for making a positive difference in the lives of pupils from her hometown of Hammanskraal, KwaZulu Natal.
No longer able to accept the bleak circumstances in her area, Kefilwe decided that something needed to be done if her community was going to change its situation and uplift itself. She started the organisation, ‘Life After Matric’, to provide high school students with the knowledge and motivation to make better career choices and aim for success in life.
‘I saw a community facing the challenge of unemployment, teenage pregnancy and crime as a result of dropping out of school [and] then identified the need to do my part in helping to educate the youth,” she says in a Youtube video about her organisation.
‘Life After Matric’ currently has five members who provide tutoring, information about and transport to open days at tertiary institutions, assistance with bursary applications and motivational talks and life skills to high school learners.
In July this year, Kefilwe’s contribution to society was officially recognised when she was chosen as the ICC Buying Group’s Young Community Shaper for 2014, an honour which came with a grand prize of R60 000 in funding to help grow her organisation further.
“With the money from the competition, we are looking into assisting schools to get computer labs and spreading the funds between the portfolios we have – which includes marketing and advertising – and also organising career days, trips to open days and various other events.”
Kefilwe says the idea for her organisation was born while tutoring primary school children in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, during her studies at the University of Cape Town in 2010 as part of the SHAWCO programme – a student-run NGO based at UCT that aims to improve the quality of life for individuals in developing communities.
“It burned in me to start something similar in my own community so I changed my tertiary studies to the University of Pretoria and invited fellow students to help with career talks and motivation in our home area,” she says. “I believed I had found my purpose.”
Kefilwe has been living that purpose ever since by providing hope, knowledge and inspiration to high school students in her area.
“We are a team of five people including myself, three of whom are studying, one person is working and the other is on a gap year. We tutor on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays and currently work with one school in Kanana, Hammanskraal.
“Kefilwe has been doing a good job as we see an improvement in the marks of our students,” said Mr Sithole, principal of Legwelereng, secondary school. “She has been able to raise the standards and we are very happy.”
This year, Bopape and the rest of her young change driver team registered as a non-profit organisation and continue to do work within the community to the best of their abilities.
“We aim to offer certificates to our learners for best achiever as an incentive and also to motivate them to work hard and are looking into having manuals that will assist our volunteer tutors and keep them prepared. All these are plans we have and still need to be executed as this is our first funding,” she explains.
Kefilwe acknowledges that there is still a lot of hard work ahead but is confident that they will go ahead even it if means helping only one student at a time.