“It’s my dream to study information technology one day,” says 15-year-old Tembisa Secondary School learner Luyolo Zondi.“I am a person who likes to explore, and IT allows that.”
Luyolo is just one of the thousands of learners whose educational journey is being supported by the Tomorrow Trust, a South African non-profit organisation that provides academic, career, psycho-social and digital upskilling assistance to vulnerable children and youth.
Now in Grade 10, Luyolo has been with the programme since the start of his school career and says the holiday and Saturday classes offered have given him the edge at his place of learning.
“I am very interested in programming and coding and I also enjoy physical science. I think what the Tomorrow Trust has helped me most with is my confidence in these subjects,” he says.
“The classes have helped me improve my school marks. Actually, because of the programme, I find myself two steps ahead of others in my class.”
Luyolo is not alone in his praise for the Saturday school and holiday programme, which is geared towards building and strengthening English, Maths, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences.
Tembisa High School learner Sandile Vilakazi, 16, has been with the Tomorrow Trust since the age of seven.
“They (trust) are helping us build a better future for ourselves,” Sandile says.
“They have really helped me a lot and I find that I am doing well at school. They are very kind and patient with us, always making sure we understand the work.”
Sandile, who is especially interested in robotics, aims to study at the University of Cape Town upon completion of his schooling.
Another learner who says he has a “better chance” of carving out a career in IT because of the programme’s support is Njabulo Kubheka, 16, of Inqayizivele Secondary School.
Like Luyolo and Sandile, he joined the trust’s programme from a young age.
“The classes make you think outside the box, and the facilitators are very patient. You can always ask questions to make sure you understand the work properly,” he says.
“I am sure without these classes I would not do as well at school. I don’t mind doing the work at all. It’s really helping me to one day get into the University of Cape Town, which is my dream.”
Entities like the Tomorrow Trust are vital if South Africa’s less privileged learners are to rise above their circumstances and prosper one day. For every 100 South African learners, only 51 make it to matric, while only 40 finish high school, 16 qualify for tertiary study and just two will graduate from university or college.
The Trust is determined to break the cycle through its learning programmes and holistic approach. Not only does their subject performance improve, but learners are also required to give back to younger students and to their community. As communities become more educated, economies thrive, jobs increase and poverty rates decline.
The Tomorrow Trust receives its own support from the Datatec Educational and Technology Foundation, which has also recognised the importance of investing in maths and science programmes in townships to produce outstanding graduates who will not only take the country forward but also uplift their own communities.
“Our vision for South Africa is perfectly aligned with that of the Tomorrow Trust,” says Datatec Foundation chair Maya Makanjee.
“For us to grow as a nation, it is imperative that no child is left behind, regardless of their background and upbringing. Our commitment to improving performances in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects is because we believe these are key to unlocking prosperity for all South Africans.”