SAKHA ULUTSHA LWETHU (WE ARE BUILDING OUR YOUTH)
Eastern Cape, South Africa –Dad Fund project coordinator, Simamkele Dlakavu, along with a team of university students and graduates are determined to educate more high school learners in rural areas about higher learning institutions and financial study aid options.
From humble beginnings, Simamkele, a 21-year old female activist, matriculated from Maria Louw High School in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. She is currently reading for a Political Studies Honours degree at Wits University. In addition to that, Simamkele has been involved in and co-founded student societies at her university such as the Young Economists for Africa, a group of Economics and Social Sciences students that seek to add a youth perspective on issues of economic policy in Africa and the Wits Chapter of DreamGirls International Mentoring and Outreach Program. As a high school student, she never thought that studying at a university was possible for her, until she attended a workshop about the opportunity of further study from a Recruitment Officer from the University of Cape Town who was invited by the Model C schools in her town. The Recruitment Officer also felt the need to address township students around Queenstown as he felt these were the students who needed this information the most. Now, she wants to make this information available to other young people from similar backgrounds as her.
Driven by a deep desire for promoting education, social upliftment and change, she founded Sakha Ulutsha Lwethu (we are building our youth) in 2011. The programme seeks to increase the number of rural and township based youth who aspire, qualify, have access and can afford to enter institutions of higher learning.
“The reality is that in South Africa, a majority of rural and township students will never have the opportunity of entering the gates of institutions of higher learning to further their studies.There are a number of issues that contribute to this, and some include the inavailability of funding opportunities, lack of information or understanding as to how to seek funding for higher education studies, the lack of career guidance councillors and what she calls the “inferiority complex [amongst some students] of believing that institutions of higher learning are only for those who come from privileged backgrounds” she says. Through this program, we aim to change that. Simamkele would like to see more students from her province, pursue higher education in the near future.
“When Simamkele approached the Dad Fund, to take the project under its wing in 2012, we happily accepted and grabbed the opportunity with both hands,” says Ezlyn Barends, Managing Director of the Dad Fund. “At the Dad Fund, we believe that everyone can make a success of their lives with the right support and guidance and we endevour to do what we can, as an organisation, to make a difference in the lives of young learners. It is such an honour to be a part of the program and help someone realise their dreams of studying further at a university.”
Through the Dad Fund, a non profit organisation, Simamkele will be rolling out her project, which she calls the “ 5 Days of Impact”. From Monday, 11 March 2013 to Friday 15 March 2013, they will visit 25 rural and township based schools to run the program which includes promoting the value of academic excellence for the Grade 11’s and providing information, resources, application forms and bursary and scholarship information for higher learning opportunities for the Grade 12’s.
“This is the perfect opportunity to reach out to rural youth who often miss out on opportunities”, says Barends. “It is our hope that more individuals and companies will be inspired to invest in programmes that aim to reach the rural youth market as it is there where it is needed most. There are many really bright young people in rural towns who just need access to information.”
The Dad Fund and Simamkele would like to thank the partners who invested in this incredibly essential program; Edu – Loan, British Council Changemakers, Tru FM, Wits Univeristy and The Embassy.
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The Dad Fund is a dynamic entity aimed at promoting the holistic development of South Africa’s future leaders. Formally registered as a Section 21 company in 2009, the organisation has made significant inroads into the youth development and empowerment arena as a social enterprise. This effort has led to the education of students, establishment of small businesses, skilling and experiential learning via internship programs.