THE POWER OF SCHOOL
When Dumisa Thethiwe matriculated, he was the first person in his village to ever finish school. He achieved this feat even in the face of many pressures and a lack of support.
Now studying at the Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA), in Cape Town, he is reaping the rewards of his hard work and perseverance. In Komkhulu, a small village in the Eastern Cape, large numbers of youth tend to drop out of school. Dumisa, who grew up in the village, decided to forge ahead and complete his schooling despite this environment. “Where I am from, young people don’t care very much about education,” he says. “When I was at school, I faced the challenge of people discouraging me by saying there was no point in finishing school because even educated people struggle to find jobs. In fact, some of my friends ended up dropping out because of the pressure they received from those who had quit school.
“I didn’t have much support from those around me to continue my education because people in my village aren’t educated. In Komkhulu, it’s common for men to herd cattle.” While at school, not only was Dumisa discouraged from going to school, but he often had to skip afternoon and Saturday classes to herd his father’s animals. But even with these challenges, Dumisa went from grade to grade with strength and determination, matriculating in 2010, and becoming the first person from Komkhulu to reach this milestone. “There were times when I wanted to drop out because I didn’t have anyone to motivate me,” he says. “I didn’t have any friends to support me or who had also decided to get to matric.”
What kept him going was the promise he had made to himself: “I stayed in school because I wanted to get a good job and be financially stable so I could give my parents a better life and support my own family one day. I saw how by getting an education, teachers in my area could better support their families and didn’t struggle as much financially. I decided that there was nothing that would stop me finishing school!”
Now in the first year of his Higher Certificate in Business Administration (HCBA) course at TSiBA – a non profit business school tertiary institution offering courses focused on developing entrepreneurship and leadership skills – he is making the most of this great opportunity. TSiBA collaborates with corporates, foundations and individual funders who sponsor the operations and management of the institution.
TSiBA offers full tuition scholarships to scholars and potential students who would otherwise not have access to tertiary level education. Students are not required to pay for their education monetarily, but rather to “Pay it Forward” by transferring the knowledge, skills and resources that they gain at TSiBA into their communities. In this way, TSiBA’s vision of “Igniting Opportunity” is realized.
loveLife, South Africa’s largest HIV prevention programme for young people, is currently running its Nakanjani campaign, which encourages young people to take charge of their destinies no matter their circumstances. Currently in its third phase, the Nakanjani campaign carries the theme ‘I Won’t Quit, My Time is Now’. The theme highlights the importance of young people showing strength, creativity, optimism and determination in accessing study, entrepreneurial and job opportunities to change their lives and communities for the better – even in the face of overwhelming challenges. Dumisa has held onto the essence of Nakanjani by letting nothing come in the way of him getting an education.
“I’m happy I finished matric because it’s given me the chance to be at TSiBA,” he says. “I’ll never forget the day my principal phoned to tell me I’d passed Grade 12. I started having more hope that I would one day achieve my goals. Although my results weren’t that good, the main thing was that I had passed. I thank all those who tried to make me leave school. They made me stronger and value my dreams even more.”
On matriculating, he moved to Khayelitsha, Cape Town. When he read about openings to study at TSiBA in his local paper, he made sure to apply and was happy to get a place at the institution. “There is a lot of work here at TSiBA, but it’s not that difficult if you give yourself enough time to study,” says Dumisa. “I’m struggling with Maths and English, but I’m coping and getting there. What keeps me going is my hunger for success and wanting to bring change to Komkhulu.”
“The motivational speakers TsIBA hosts on a monthly basis give me lots of hope and inspiration.”
Dumisa recently completed a training session through TSiBA with an NGO called Educo Africa, which runs programmes to empower people and communities. While there, he approached the Educo Africa CEO to be his mentor. “The CEO has skills and resources, and can give me the support and advice I never had when I was young.”
In future, Dumisa wants to open a youth development agency in Komkhulu to offer young people mentorship, coaching and leadership skills. “Komkhulu has high rates of crime, unemployment and uneducated youth. I would like to bring change to my community by empowering people to improve their lives,” he says. “I want to inform youth about the power of school. With an education, you can create a job for yourself and others, so improving the overall quality of life in communities.”
First name: Dumisa
Last name: Thethiwe
Email address: Ubuntubethu10@gmail.com