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2022: uBAMBISWANO – ‘A PLACE OF HOPE’

One of the ways that we measure the success of uBambiswano’s Saturday School programme is by tracking the progress of our alumni.We are delighted to hear from past students, who often contact us years after they were in the programme to tell us about their successes and progress.

uBambiswano would not be able to have such a long-lasting impact on people’s lives if it were not for its partnerships and relationships with schools and organisations. It is these partnerships that make it possible for us to guide our students towards the education and outcomes that they deserve.

One of our most important partnerships is the one we enjoy with our sister school, St Andrew’s School for Girls. Not only do we use their facilities for our Saturday School activities, but St Andrew’s also offers scholarship opportunities to qualifying uBambiswano students. The recipients of these scholarships are awarded entry to this world-class girls’ school, helping these girls reach for the stars and follow their dreams.

Amukelani Manda, who was a student at uBambiswano from 2014 to 2017, is only one example. Amukelani joined St Andrew’s School for Girls in Grade 10, matriculating in 2020 with outstanding results. Her results allowed her to enrol for a BSc at the University of Pretoria where, after completing her first semester with superb results, she converted to Medicine. Amukelani is now doing her second year of Medicine.

 

Another alumnus, Gugulethu Mashego, entered St Andrew’s in 2018, after four years in the uBambiswano programme. Five years later, Gugulethu continues to shine academically, and has also grown into a kind young woman. She has stayed involved with uBambiswano, working with students on a voluntary basis on Saturdays. Gugulethu has been accepted to a BSc programme in Biological Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand.

 

These are just two examples of how uBambiswano and St Andrew’s School for Girls work together to help our alumni succeed. We are proud of our exceptional students, and grateful to our sister school, St Andrew’s for partnering with us to help them realise their full potential.

 

Our students call uBambiswano a place of hope. They think that we are giving them hope. What they don’t realise is that they are the ones giving us hope.

Siphiwe Vilakazi

Head of School: uBambiswano

Note:

uBambiswano is a well-respected Saturday School programme in service of Black South African students from disadvantaged communities in Daveyton and Etwatwa. We currently reach 105 young people from Grades 6 to 9. Our educational approach is a holistic one: we work to improve the students’ literacy and numeracy, and we also provide opportunities for students to engage in sporting and cultural activities.

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2021: SILVER LININGS

There was a collective groan across the nation when President Ramaphosa announced the country’s move to adjusted Level 4 Lockdown on Sunday 27 June. While we were perhaps expecting it – especially here in Gauteng – another lockdown felt like a blow just as we were beginning to emerge from what has felt like never-ending social isolation.

For those of us who work with young people, we became immediately concerned. We have, of course, seen an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases in young people. Their health must be our primary concern, but we cannot forget the ripple effects on their emotional and mental well-being. We remember how hard many young people found the country’s first hard lockdown and there is still some anxiety (felt by teachers and parents alike) about their academic progress. We are all too aware that our students are living in a vastly different world to what they are used to and, certainly, to what we are used to.

Unlike that first lockdown, however, educators have the advantage of experience. The uBambiswano team certainly learned many valuable lessons in 2020 and the early part of 2021. So, when the latest lockdown and school closures were announced, we were ready!

Within a matter of days, we had full packs of learning materials ready to be printed, packed and distributed to our students. Our communication networks also kicked back into gear and we revived our popular WhatsApp support groups. Our distance learning programme was a roaring success last year and earlier this year, and we expect this round to be no different. The students know what to do and feel confident that we are there to guide them, even though they won’t be on campus on Saturdays as usual.

What we have seen throughout these trying times is that there is always a silver lining. While we cannot do face-to-face teaching, the students are learning to take responsibility for their own learning by pacing themselves and completing their worksheets with little supervision. And, while we cannot talk to our students in person, as we support them virtually, we are teaching them essential and appropriate communication skills that they can use in their daily lives and, one day, in the workplace.

Charles Darwin is quoted as saying “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”. Our aim is not to adapt to survive, but rather to adapt to thrive. There is an opportunity for growth during change. Over the past year and a half, our team has seen the need to be creative and flexible in our approach to learning and teaching. With the teachers’ guidance and the support of parents, we are striving to ensure continuous, high quality education and make sure that no student is left behind.

 

Siphiwe Vilakazi

Head of School: uBambiswano

Note:

uBambiswano is a well-respected Saturday School programme in service of Black South African students from disadvantaged communities in Daveyton and Etwatwa. We currently reach 105 young people from Grades 6 to 9. Our educational approach is a holistic one: we work to improve the students’ literacy and numeracy, and we also provide opportunities for students to engage in sporting and cultural activities.