Youth takes initiative to tackle education challenges

After struggling to get tertiary education for three years in a row, Simphiwe Mngoma, now a Wits graduate addresses educational challenges in The Republic together with a group of other local youths through The National Applications Centre (NAC) which he founded and currently heads. The National Applications Centre was founded to address four major gaps they identified in our educational system.

These are:

Centralising Undergraduate Applications for admission, residence and funding; across all South African universities, FET Colleges and foreign public institutions of higher learning;

Poor career guidance from an early age;

The huge gap in basic computer skills between students living in the cities and those from rural, disadvantaged schools;

Capacitating disadvantaged youth i.e. school drop-outs, out-of-school youth and unemployed graduates;

After three years of hardships and struggling, reaching out to different educational systems, failing to win and eventually getting a scholarship through the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, Simphiwe feels there is so much that everyone can do in improving the current education system.

Simphiwe says It is disheartening and depressing to have an ambition to pursue your goals by studying further only to realise that finances become a huge stumbling block in realising your goals when armed with a good matric pass after months of sleepless nights. Financial exclusion and lack of access to information and educational funding has far reaching implications on young people in terms of how they look at themselves and participate in the economy.

The NAC aims to address these current problems through the provision of Career Guidance programmes to Grade 9 to 12 learners so that by the time they sit for their Matric exams, they are already working on subjects that are a stepping stone to what they will study at tertiary level.

Through the use of Mobile Classrooms, The NAC goes into rural, remote and disadvantaged schools to teach basic computer skills that students can use in their search for bursaries, studying institutions and applying when its time to leave high school.

The organisation survives and continues to deliver such great programmes through partnerships with local municipalities, government agencies and schools themselves. The NAC is calling upon the business sector to help out financially in furthering their cause and ensuring the improvement of our education system. Simphiwe explains, implementation happens on a project-to-project basis and this makes it difficult for us to deliver properly on our programmes.

For each and every project we undertake we train and hire unemployed graduates from that particular province to work as NAC Facilitators and due to lack of defined and continued funding, it becomes difficult to keep them employed.

About The NAC

It is an educational development initiative founded and headed by Simphiwe Mngoma in 2008, and run by other youth through the South African Union of Students (SAUS) to provide career guidance to both high school learners; assist them with tertiary education applications, connecting them to financial and employment institutions, promote computer literacy in rural schools and capacitate out-of-school youth, university drop-outs and unemployed graduates through skills development.

Their vision is to become a leading educational development institution trusted by students and education stakeholders globally.

The NAC runs periodical Career Guidance Programmes designed for learners from Grade 9 to 12. Its through this Career Guidance Programme that Grade 12 Learners are assisted with tertiary applications for admission, residence, funding and student employment.

Through the use of our relationship funding we buy and install Mobile Classrooms within schools / local Police Stations / Municipalities; where learners can attend outside school hours and be rotated on a timetable to learn basic computer skills before they leave high school.

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