GDF encourages pupils to rise against their challenges

Hundreds of pupils met at Ntshukomo Comprehensive School to discuss their concerns.

The Gugulethu Development Forum (GDF), in partnership with the provincial Department of Education and other stakeholders held a two-day youth summit at Intshukumo Comprehensive School, themed, “Kasi Future Leader Find Your Fire Dialogue”, in response to the Thuma Mina Campaign initiative of president Cyril Ramaphosa to empower youngsters.

The youth summit, on Thursday and Friday July 26 and July 27, saw more than 500 Grade 12 pupils empowered with talks on social ills, including substance abuse, drugs, peer pressure, bullying in schools, teenage pregnancy, gangsterism and education.

The programme by the GDF, Ulwazi Lwethu NGO and the Western Cape Education Department also saw youngsters putting forward their challenges at schools and complaints like school burglaries, teachers’ attitudes, food nutrition, gangsterism outside school premises, as well as suicides that are not tackled by the authorities.

In groups, the pupils discussed the issues and send it back to the organisers for further discussions.

After the two days of deliberations, organisers applauded the pupils for the issues that were discussed as these were some of the challenges that have been highlighted by many long before the current crop of pupils.

However, the youngsters were shocked that some of the challenges they faced were still in existence. But they encouraged young people to face them and achieve what they want to achieve in life.

Well-known sports personality Vincent Ntunja, from Gugulethu, took the youths back to the 1990s when gangsterism was rife in his area of K*k Yard. He said through sport he managed to succeed despite this.

The national basketball player thanked God for giving him basketball to achieve more in life.

“It was not easy but I used the tool (basketball) that was given to me to save my life. I chose to rise above gangs. You can do the same too,” he said.

Businesswoman Khosi Liwani, who is an independent business owner in partnership with Pick * Pay and who owns the Ndwamba Market in Nyanga East, encouraged pupils to focus on their studies and do what they are passionate about to become successful citizens.

She said in her case, her father was very strict with her. “I never had fun with other children. While others were enjoying themselves elsewhere, I was busy at the shop. That shaped me into the person I am today.”

The young achievers also included Dr Buntu Godongwana, Lulu Nongogo and Andiswa Mazoko.

Phumzile Nteyi from Hlahla Consulting, a company responsible for implementing the programme, said the first day was dedicated to pupils to engage on matters affecting quality education in township schools and also to deliberate on what needs to be done to achieve one’s goals and aspirations in life.

Nosisi Waqu, the education sector head of the GDF, commended the panel of Gugulethu young achievers for giving their testimonies on challenges experienced in their quest to reach their dreams and aspirations.

“The youth of today need positive role models. What they see mostly in our townships are people involved in criminal activities driving fancy cars and the youth think that this is the way to go. This is the time where we need to showcase positive role models who have worked hard for their success and contribute immensely in building our country for the better”, she said.

The forum hopes to host more empowering programmes for the youth in the future.