by Andile Masango

South Africa has come a long way in its history; we have fought oppression, discrimination, poverty and disease. However, a major cause for concern that could delay our progress is lack of education.

My partner, Vuyo Dasha and I have been privileged enough to attend some of the best schools in South Africa. Achieving academic success has never been a question; it was always in the plan. I was never aware of the extent of educational need amongst my own people.

I took part in The Mamelodi Initiative for the first time in 2012. During the first week of the initiative; I met a 13 year old boy who was in his seventh year of primary school. After teaching him for about 2 days, I discovered that he could not write his own name properly. I struggled with that thought; my own ignorance tortured me during the months to follow. Having led a blessed and somewhat sheltered existence; I could not fathom the idea of illiteracy. I knew I had to act.

Year after year, The Department of Education spreads the message that education is flourishing. As we do every year, we poured over newspapers this January when the Grade 12 results were announced. There were celebrations when the Minister announced a 3.7% increase in the pass rate from 2011. Although 73.9% of matriculants passed, only 20.1% overall qualified to study at a University. I saw this as a red light, a major cause for panic. Out of the 511152 pupils who sat down to write finals, only 102742 would have the opportunity to study further. Worse still, the pass rates for Mathematics and Physical Science stood at a dismal 54% and 61.3%, respectively.

South Africa is a developing country however, in terms of education, development has been hindered. I cannot stress enough the importance of University graduates. Creating this programme means that we can do our part in ensuring that the youth of Mamelodi is given a realistic fighting chance. The aim of the project, #TeamMatric’13 is to give 30 students from Mamelodi the opportunity to participate in a Tutorship and Mentorship programme where they will be equipped with the necessary skills to write their Grade 12 examinations and produce excellent results. In addition to revising their school work, they will attend a career expedition hosted by various men and woman who are successful working professionals, some of whom come from the same background as the pupils. It is evident that most of the students will not be able to afford University tuition. They will be given bursary and loan application forms–this will ensure that finances will not be a worrying factor when attending university.

#TeamMatric’13 is designed by University students for potential University graduates. We have a dream for ourselves and for those of us who hail from townships and disadvantaged upbringings; the same dream resonates in the pupils.

30 Students, 30 degrees, 1 uplifted community. We all have the same goal; let us achieve it.

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