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High school drop-out pupils provided with another lifeline

Develop to Grow (D2G), a non-profit organisation in the Western Cape Province, has given meaning to the saying: “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal.”
This follows a partnership forged with the merSETA and Swift Skills Academy to establish a skills development programme targeted at pupils from grade 8 to 9, who have dropped out of school for various reasons.

Ntando Sonxi, Founder and Director of D2G

Ntando Sonxi, Founder and Director of D2G, says: “D2G aims to provide skills to pupils, who struggle academically and are not able to complete matric, by giving them an alternative”.
According to Sonxi, it is often difficult for pupils who drop out of school to “gel” back into the curriculum.
“Even if they go back to school, they continue to struggle and drop out again because of their parents’ and communities’ expectations that they should become doctors or lawyers. We want to show these young people and their parents that there is more to the labour market than ‘white collar’ jobs.”
He continues: “Most high school pupils in the country do not have the required qualifications to further their studies at higher education institutions. However, this should not be a deterring factor in them building successful careers.”
Collaborative efforts between public and private sector organisations are required to provide the necessary support. “We do not want them to leave school and get just any job, but rather jobs that will develop and empower them. This is a vision we share with Swift Skills Academy. Quality is our priority, so we do not train learners just to tick boxes and provide a report in terms of the quantities we have trained.”
Swifts Skills Academy trains learners in welding and receives funding from the merSETA.
“We are able to advance them up to NQF level 4,” says Roslyn Williams, Chief Operations Officer at Swift Skills Academy.
Fabian Sass, Donavon September and Rowena Arendse are among the 2019 cohort being trained through the D2G Skills Development Programme. They say they did not envision becoming welders, but later found it to be an interesting and diverse field.
“Welding is one of the skills overlooked by most women. I find it fascinating in a sense that you can never say that you have learnt enough”, says Arendse, one of the female welding learners.

Sonxi says the motivation behind the creation of D2G was sparked by seeing the petty things that young people got arrested for when he worked for the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Crime Offenders (NICRO).
“This is when I realised that if we don’t provide support for young people, we are slowly digging them and our country into a grave.”
Arshaad Obaray, Chief Executive Officer at Swift Skills Academy, says they value the funding provided by the merSETA and that his organisation ensures there is value for money.
“The proof is in the pudding. One of our learners, Kyle Keightley, has not yet written a trade test but is employed as a Production Manager by one of our partner companies,” he says.
Sonxi says his vision is to see young people able to live a crime-free life.
“We aim to show other development organisations that there is more to community development than funding charity organisations,” he concludes.