Ikamva programme plays a ‘critical role’

From left, Hlela Mgatyana, Sibahle Siganga, Lisakhanya Otisi with their tutor Lukhanyo Matshebelele from the University of the Witwatersrand.

In an effort to assist primary school pupils in disadvantaged communities with their school work, Ikamva Labantwana Bethu (ILB), a non-governmental organisation, held a two-week winter programme at Nelson Mandela High School, in Crossroads.

The organisations strives to create educational opportunities for children who come from Crossroads and surrounds.

Founder Siviwe Dlukwana, 24, told Vukani that parents are often caught up in their daily household chores and have little or no time to help their children with their school work.

He said the education system required parents to be involved in their children’s school work, but this was a mammoth task for many.

He said that in 2003, when he was just 11 years old, he lost his older brother in a gang-related stabbing. His brother had been in Grade 12 at the time.

He added that it was for these reasons that he had opted to launch this organisation in 2012 to prevent young people in his community from being lured into criminal activities, and to help tackle any challenges they may be facing at school.

He said the organisation accommodated pupils in grades 4 to 7, with an emphasis on maths, science and English.

He said they had formed partnerships with schools such as LEAP Science and Maths Schools and the Cape Academy of Maths, Science and Technology and they recommend committed pupils be considered to study at these schools.

“We also provide afternoon classes for two hours during school days as well as Saturday classes. We have also trained university students to be tutors, and in a way, these tutors are ploughing back into the community.

“The programme has played a critical role in assisting the pupils to overcome any challenges they have. The reason we specialise in these subjects is because there is a high demand for scientists and engineers and many black students are not pursuing these careers and we want to encourage the pupils to get into these fields.

“Mostly classes in our schools are overcrowded and it becomes an uphill battle for teachers to give those one on ones sessions with the pupils, but, in our programme we ensure that we give the pupils those one-on-one sessions because we have ample time to do so, unlike teachers who are have a pile of work,” he said.

Asked about some of the achievements of the programme, he said they had placed about 23 pupils into schools that specialise in maths and science, adding that one of the pupils who is part of the programmes had been offered a place at Claremont High School next year.

He added that the programme had yielded the desired results as the marks of the pupils had improved significantly – and their confidence had been boosted.

He said about 75 pupils attended the winter school classes.

Mr Dlukwana said funding had been a major challenge and a lack of support from the community at the beginning was another obstacle he had to overcome.

Siphokazi Thanga, 13, who is in Grade 7 at Sikelela Imizamo Primary School, said she was excited to have been offered a place at Claremont High and thanked ILB which had applied on her behalf. She said they were also helping her to get a sponsor to help cover her school fees.

“I have been attending the programme since its inception in 2012, and my marks and confidence have improved significantly,” she said. “I highly appreciate the endeavours and efforts made by the founder of the organisation in bettering the lives of children who come from poor backgrounds,” she said.

Mr Dlukwana said: “We hope to branch out to other communities and reach more pupils. I appeal to businesses people to fund this project because it seeks to create a better future for the children who come from poor communities, and I highly appreciate the tutors who give their time to volunteer and share their knowledge with the pupils.”