Change is knocking at the door, loudly enough to draw attention, but yet too softly for everyone to hear. Across the country’s borders the final shots of a war are being fired. The previous regime is gasping for breath, because the world’s sanctions are choking it. The media are being gagged and traitors are being necklaced. It is a discordant symphony of chaos and riots, the conductors are limpet mines, letter bombs and comrades in arms. The prevailing state of emergency is depressing and everyone is spoiling for a fight. The youth are in revolt, young people are searching for reasons and answers and help and deliverance.
It was 1988 and the country was burning.
The Vaal Triangle was not left untouched, and in the surrounding areas children’s education suffered. Reverend Sello Mussa, a township minister, approached the management of the North-West University (NWU) Vaal Triangle Campus. It cannot continue like this, he said. We must build.
The support was unanimous, and a Saturday school was introduced for the neighbouring townships. The Ikateleng Project, meaning “empower yourself”, gave its first steps. Thirty-four years later, and a small beginning has developed into a huge success.
Ikateleng, in collaboration with the Department of Education, gives supplemental instruction to Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners at six centres in four provinces. These centres are in Potchefstroom, Vanderbijlpark, Mahikeng, Kimberley, Lichtenburg and Mooinooi.
“Our overall objective is to deliver as many Grade 12 learners with university exemption for admission to a bachelor’s degree as possible so that that they can study at any tertiary-education institution in the country. It is a goal we set ourselves every year and one on which we want to improve every year,” says Celeste Rossouw, Ikateleng’s project manager.
The project focuses in particular on the science and business streams, and on helping learners with career guidance and university applications. Teachers selected for Ikateleng must comply with strict criteria requirements, because for 17 days (Saturdays and Sundays) they are tasked with an immense responsibility.
The results show that this process works.
Since 2013 the matric pass rate for Ikateleng learners has never dropped below 89%. In 2021 it was 97%, compared to the national average of 76,4%. In addition, 78% of the Ikateleng learners passed with a bachelor’s-degree exemption, compared to the country’s average of less than 40%.
The same applies to the matric average for Mathematics (52%), Accountancy (60%), Physical Sciences (51%) and Life Sciences (65%), which were all higher than the national average in 2021.
A part of the overwhelming success of the project is the number of sponsors who have given their support to Ikateleng. They all took hands and together paved a new way for so many future generations.
“At the NWU we believe that every learner should be granted the opportunity to discover and live their potential, whether at the NWU or elsewhere. It is our privilege and duty to promote the community we serve, and Ikateleng is a major tool that already assists us in this task,” says Rossouw.
More than 1 500 learners are currently enrolled in the Ikateleng Project. Their voyage of discovery has started, and with every step they take forwards, 1988 is left further behind.