The annual awards evening and farewell function of the Denel Youth Foundation Training Programme (DYFTP) took place at the Emperor’s Palace in the East Rand late April 2010.
Held in honour of 47 learners who excelled in subjects offered by the Foundation, the gala event was attended by high-level Denel executives, representatives from the CSIR and Department of Defence, Archbishop Njongo Ndungane and Dr Nduna-Watson from the Department of Basic Education.
With all learners during the programme having improved their matric results through commitment, the event served to showcase what disadvantaged learners can achieve when placed in an advantaged environment.
Part of the social development work done through the Denel Centre for Learning and Development (DCLD), DYFTP focuses on providing external support to the national education system. “Our experience has shown that by offering learners in disadvantaged communities a neutral environment in which to learn, and providing them with the necessary holistic support, we can significantly improve their academic results,” says DCLD general manager, Dr Eric Khoza. “In this way, we not only inspire them to excel, but we also instil a sense of pride and purpose in these individuals – and show them that their potential is unlimited.”
The Foundation assists approximately 360 learners annually, each of whom are taken through a programme that revises grades 10 and 11 in the initial six months, and grade 12 in the latter half of the year. They then write their supplementary matric exams.
The programme has been tailored to facilitate and inspire the best possible performance of each student. Seven dedicated educators (all specialists in their fields of English; accounting; maths algebra, geometry and trigonometry; numeracy; physical science; and chemistry) teach the learners in conversational English to ensure that the learners understand what is required of them.
Students are also taught the valuable life skills they will need to succeed in the work environment.
Team work and self-discipline is encouraged by making them responsible for entertainment and sports, as well as other activities, through various portfolios on the student committee.
The event saw Mante Rose Makola walk away with five awards, dominating the maths category. Awards were also given to students who had demonstrated the greatest improvement in certain subjects. Tebogo Mabela was the year’s most improved maths student – showing a 42% jump in her initial standard grade result of 25% to 67% on higher grade. Lucky Mabidlala achieved similar excellence in accounting, with a 43% increase giving him 66% as his overall mark.
With DYFTP committed to addressing the skills shortage in the country in a sustainable and meaningful way, the Foundation demonstrates Denel’s greater commitment to growing South Africa’s engineering and high-technology capabilities industry by developing the next generation of artisans and technicians.
As such, it was a call to action for other state-owned entities and private owned institutions to invest to in the leaders of tomorrow.
“Very few young people from the rural areas are aware of the aviation industry for example, despite this sector being full of exciting opportunities for them,” says Mlokoti. “Our approach has seen us develop maths and science skills, and simultaneously create an awareness of aviation among our students in the hope that they will become the solution to the resource requirements of this industry. If more companies supported this initiative or employed a similar approach in their own social development programmes, so much more could be done for the youth and for overall skills development in our country,” Zizikazi Mlokoti, manager of DYFTP said.
Although the Foundation is unable to secure bursaries for all its learners going into tertiary institutions at the end of the training programme, it continues to give them access to further education by funding their application fees and providing ongoing support throughout their studies.
In this way, DYFTP reiterates its life-changing message to students – one that Mlokoti and Khoza are confident will resonate throughout their lives: “It doesn’t matter where you come from. Armed with willpower and drive alone, you don’t need anyone to do anything for you. If you show up fully with something to offer, you will always find someone who is willing to help you achieve your goals. Your future is up to you!”