Transnet Foundation’s Youth Education Development Programme is the Education portfolio’s brainchild targeted at academically gifted students. The main aim of the programme is to promote a culture of academic excellence in South Africa by providing comprehensive educational and psycho-social support to vulnerable youth in strategically targeted areas. The nine year programme targets youth from Grade 8 and the first five-year phase focuses on high school education while the last four years, tertiary studies.
The 2012 pilot intake saw an enrolment of ten grade 10 learners with the number doubling with the 2013 intake. One of the many roles that Transnet Foundation takes on once the learners are in the programme is that of a parent and this is achieved by carefully selecting Transnet mothers and fathers who act as caregivers within the school environments. The Education portfolio believes that in order for the learners to be content and eventually thrive in the programme, a strong family support environment needs to be in place.
In light of this, Senior Manager Theresa Moila has created a family support structure to integrate the two family trees that the learners are seen to have (Transnet Foundation family tree and the family of origin/foster home/orphanage).
Moila has been holding workshops with the learners and their respective family to introduce the initiative.
“As the Foundation family, we want to introduce and nourish a solid relationship with our children’s other families. The family has an important role to play in the child’s life and our children are in the middle of the two family trees and we want to create a balance between the two. We are saying to the families that they still have the responsibility for the socialisation of the child each family structure has an important role to play. It is much our role as is theirs, to impart values and be role models for the children’’, Moila says.
Moila continued to say that the young people are part of the partnership and are to play their role wherever they are. When the learners are at school, they are expected to follow the school rules and when at home, house rules must be followed just as Transnet Foundation protocol is observed by the students.
“As partners let’s keep the conversation going and let’s strengthen support for the children. We live in a time where children are there to be seen and heard. Children have rights and unfortunately they also have responsibilities. These children are still part of the family structure, a structure that has rules. The students must not be exempted from family rules just because they are Transnet ambassadors because without these protocols the child is like a dying tree”, Moila told the family gathering at a workshop held at Kingswood College.
Moila urged the families to continue to seek ways to lay an even stronger foundation and further contribute towards building healthy, committed and confident young people.
Thandi Mngxongo, one of the caregivers who has been with the programme for all its life skills workshops encouraged the youth to listen to their elders and subject themselves to the rules of their homes. She also urged families to be more supportive and not to use the resources such as the cell phones allocated to the youth people.
Julia Matjene a Transnet mother based at Prestige College who is responsible for taking care of the seven girls indicated the need for families to take an interest in what is happening in the lives of the young people, to encourage them to study even holidays. She explained the discipline structure of Prestige College and the importance of the TF Youth abiding by the code of ethics of the school.
Portia Moatshe and Johan Engelbrecht, the Grade 11 Transnet Ambassadors based at Prestige shared with the audience how the programme had transformed their lives for the better and how they had grabbed the opportunities with both hands. Kgothatso Sibasa echoed their sentiments and added that her life has never been the same since she joined the programme and that she planned to make the most of this golden opportunity.
Salmina Moloto’s grandmother spoke on behalf of the families and expressed appreciation that Transnet Foundation sought to engage with them and actively involve them in the programme. She expressed the need for more frequent meetings. She urged all families to play a meaningful role in the upbringing of the young people. She also encouraged the young people to take counsel from their elders and not to look down on others because their circumstances had drastically improved.Enrolment for the 2015 intake has commenced and 10 successful candidates will this time form part of the Youth Education Development Programme’s success story and their lives changed forever.