Advice Corner

Ikamva Youth – ‘The future is in our hands’

The goal of Ikamva Youth, an organization born in Cape Town, is to give learners from disadvantaged communities the knowledge, skills, network and resources to access tertiary education and employment opportunities once they matriculate. This year, more than 1 500 young South Africans are part of their innovative programme which takes place in 10 branches all across the country. Zoe Mann, community coordinator of Ikamva Youth, explains us what is the model of this organization. 

Interview conducted in April 2014. 

Zoe Mann, community coordinator of Ikamva Youth

Zoe Mann, community coordinator of Ikamva Youth


SparkTour Africa: Why Ikamva Youth was created?

Zoe Mann, community coordinator of Ikamva Youth:  Ikamva Youth was created when the co-founders realized that they arrived at the same place through very different roots. For one of them it was a lot harder because he came from a disadvantaged community which has very poor standards of education. Both of these two people decided to do something to balance the education system. It was in 2003. They began to tutor on Saturday mornings, and now the organization still exists and has an enormous impact.

‘Ikamva Youth was created when the co-founders realized that they arrived at the same place through very different roots.’


How does Ikamva Youth work today?

The core programme is tutoring, happening three times a week. Students can come to a branch and access tutoring. One tutor has five kids around, and it is more a pedagogical role than a teaching. It is not content delivery, it is not giving answers, but the learners ask their own questions and the tutor is a guide through the process of learning. The learner themselves has to build up his understanding, which gives them a huge sense of confidence and responsibility. The small groups allow learners to receive feedback from their tutor very quickly, something that is not possible at school where you have to wait three months before receiving the results of your test. We try also to encourage pair learning, which is a very powerful learning tool.


What is the impact of Ikamva Youth?

Today, in order to get a well-paid job, you need a degree. Getting a degree means first get good results at school. Without these academic results, it is very hard to get into the labor market and to live with dignity. In South Africa there is a large majority of people that are not educated enough to access well-paid jobs. The problem is not a lack of jobs, but a lack of skills to match those jobs.

‘The problem is not a lack of jobs, but a lack of skills to match those jobs.’


10 years after the creation, what are the results of Ikamva Youth?

We did an evaluation which shoes that between 2005 and 2013 our pass rate has been between 85 and 100% every year. Last year, the national pass rate was 78%. This year, 1607 learners were registered across the country.


Do you have three words to define the spirit of Ikamva Youth?

Passionate, innovative, collaborative.


What was the biggest difficulty since the creation?

It has been a lot of difficulties! Initially, it was engaging communities with the programme, then it was founding. Now we need volunteers, which is a huge problem because there is not a culture of volunteerism in South Africa.


How do you see Ikamva Youth in 10 years?

Our vision for 2030 is that every learner who starts school in 2018 will pass metric or the equivalent, will access to post school opportunities of their choice, and will access to employment opportunities and earn a living. In 10 years time, we should be very much on the path to do that. Ikamva Youth wants to collaborate and partner with a lot of other people and organizations to address a fundamental issue for South Africa.


Today, a lot of young South Africans want to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure to help society. Do you have a piece of advice for them?

Try things and do things. That is how Ikamva Youth started with these two people who saw a problem and did not have any solution at all! They had no idea of what Ikamva Youth will become. It is also very important to monitor the impact from a very early stage to get founding in an easier way.

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