Rampant teenage pregnancy is a significant challenge for parents and teachers amongst Grade 11 and 12 learners in South Africa. Numbers are so high that serious intervention is needed to address the causes of this national epidemic.
22-year-old NGO, Khulisa Social Solutions, has been operational throughout the Midlands area for over 15 years and has worked in all the schools in the area, through the rendering of numerous crime prevention and developmental programmes.
A project, entitled The Global Give Back Circle Mentorship Programme, focuses on providing school leavers with 21st Century skill gap year, where they could acquire the necessary skills to prepare them for the world of academia, the workplace or formal employment.
The content of the gap year is based on a multi-stakeholder consultation which is solidified through dialogue circles, storytelling, action and research on what jobs could be available to them and to further address the fundamental lack in the school system, to provide them with the essential skills needed to capacitate them and enhance their future prospects.
120 participants from 3 schools were selected and in January 2016 the adventurous year-long process began – obtaining an international IT qualification, business skills, public speaking, victim empowerment, HIV/AIDS training and job shadowing were just a few of the interventions embroidered into a year of solid learning and development.
Of the 120, 30% moved on to further studies, 20% were employed, 20% moved into major cities, 20% stayed home receiving additional grants for the children that they gave birth to, but the biggest achievement of all was the 10% who made a decision that they wanted to enter the world of agriculture.
The following year, dependent on their specific areas of interest, they attended a variety of agricultural and livestock courses at Buhle Academy where after graduating, they returned back to their community to be mentored by a local farmer who could create opportunities for them to apply their knowledge in a practical context in the farm where he resides. Two co-ops were subsequently established.
- Livestock (cattle, pigs, chickens)
- Agriculture (soya/maize, vegetables)
Through the support of Bayer, this month, they have moved into their own farm on a significant piece of land owned by a local community. The project believes that within six months the girls will be self-sustained whereafter they will be generating income from their commercial endeavours on the farm.
This is what the girls have to said about their experiences over the years:
“To me, this is a huge opportunity Khulisa gave us. I promise to work very hard every day. I’m so happy. Thank you to Mr V for not giving up on us even in hard times.”
“The opportunity we got means a lot to us because we see the way forward on reaching our goals.”
“Mr Luke is our mentor he will guide and mentor us on how to achieve the goals as he had many years in farming.”
“I think it’s time for us to pull up our socks and work on our own and it’s time where we will face challenges and come up with solutions. It is time for us to work smart and hard and show our commitment and passion. It is time to achieve our goals and make our sponsors proud and make this project a success. I am so grateful.”