By Siphesihle Shange

Emoyeni Youth has launched its first community-based project, Matric Outreach Program, in collaboration with the giant telecommunications company, Vodacom. The collaboration sets the tone for the NPO as it embarks in its journey to improve social welfare and alleviate some of the socio-economic issues brought by the lack of access to resources and information in the rural community of Bergville, Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN). The launch of the program acts as a stepping stone towards achieving the organisation’s focal goal of building a well digitally-equipped community centre which will be used to run educational initiatives aimed at promoting youth development.

Emoyeni Youth has already secured the land to build its community centre with which they plan to utilise to drive and increase digital connectivity activities in the rural community of Bergville. This community centre will comprise of a computer laboratory, among other facilities, purposed to host and run computer training programmes for the advancement of the economically disadvantaged young people in the community. This is going to be the first computer laboratory in Bergville established to offer free computer training at the disposal of the community. The organisation is still searching for more sponsorships that can help realise all of its objectives relating to the construction of the community centre.

The organisation didn’t want to wait any further in beginning its social development activities as it has embarked in a collaboration project with Vodacom aimed at helping all the Grade 12 learners from the rural community. In Bergville, less than 20 matriculants out of a class of 200 learners, are able to subsequently further their studies to tertiary institutions. This is caused by a number of factors, among them being the absence of academic support and career guidance as majority of the youth come from uneducated families. 

In order to bridge this gap, Emoyeni Youth inducts the Matric Outreach Program to the local student community. The 1st phase of the programme entails encouraging and assisting matric learners with processing online tertiary applications and also provide them with career advice when they make their study choices. 

The giant telecommunications company provides the organisation with the equipment necessary to make the programme a success. This equipment includes the provision of laptops and the supply of WiFi, which the facilitators use to carry out all the activities of the programme. 

Not only is the organisation dedicated in assisting with tertiary applications, but it also made it a point to expose the learners to academic online platforms. This is done with the objective of assisting learners to excel and achieve higher academic results despite the strain that COVID-19 has put in their normal learning patterns. 

The last two phases of the programme entails assisting matriculants with lodging bursary applications and continually giving them the above-mentioned exposure to online learning through utilisation of platforms like Vodacom e-School which contains free educational material. The learning material obtained from the platform is in a form of study videos, question papers and interactive quizzes that learners can do subject-for-subject without any data charges. 

There are currently 194 Grade 12 learners enrolled in the programme. They have helped each learner apply to  five different universities – this makes it a total of 630 applications submitted per each learner. The universities applied to are, namely:

1. University of Johannesburg 

2. University of KwaZulu-Natal

3. University of Zululand 

4. Durban University of Technology 

5. Mangosuthu University of Technology 

It’s undeniable that technology has tremendously improved communication engagements and service delivery throughout the world. It’s also crystal clear that the future favours those who embrace the inevitability that technology brings. 

However, there’s a huge lack of access to digital resources for the people in rural areas due to poor economic conditions, and this puts them in a very disadvantaged position as much as their future is concerned. 

Emoyeni Youth aims to bridge that gap in the rural community of Bergville by bringing more digital activities and provide a platform with an intent to serve and empower young people with educational material, computer skills, and improved access to technological resources in order to facilitate their learning. 

Through collaborative initiatives, the organisation’s mission is to become a catalyst that is determined and driven to ignite the shift that is required to advance social development through technology in order to empower the young people of Bergville.

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Siphesihle Shange is a Final Year Student at the University of Witswatersrand doing Bachelor of Accounting Science (a CA(SA) route). He is also a member of the Association for Black Accountants of South Africa (ABASA). Highly passionate about the financial services sector, he is also have a member of the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals (ABSIP). He is reachable on sphesihle.sha@gmail.com