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Empowering Young Change-Makers 

by Tia

‘How can young South Africans reach their full potential and embrace their roles as change-makers’? This question is at the heart of Sparrow Schools Educational Trust, a dedicated non-profit and non-governmental organisation who has been providing quality, accredited education to young, disadvantaged South Africans with learning barriers for more than 35 years.

According to 2023 data from Statista, South Africa has a large population of youths under 14, and who will soon be seeking job opportunities. However, the country’s labour market continues to struggle to integrate young people. In the third quarter of 2022, the unemployment rate for those aged 25-34 was 42.9 percent.  And shockingly, in a time where education is available for all, it is reported that in 2021, South Africa’s youth literacy rate (ages 15-24) decreased by 1.7 percent compared to 2019. 

Leona Krishna, Principal of Sparrow Combined Technical Skills School says that it is a duty of educators to ensure that the youth are well equipped to successfully enter into the job market after completing their basic education. “At our school, we see every student, no matter their learning ability, as a future leader, a potential change-maker, who can contribute positively to society. In spite of their learning barriers, we are committed to nurturing their specific interests and talents, ensuring they have the required skills and opportunities to succeed.”

Young Change-Makers

Emmanuel Msini: Emmanuel’s love for cooking blossomed thanks to his single mother, who worked as a domestic worker. Her delicious weekend meals inspired him to pursue a career as a chef at the age of 16. Learning that his late grandfather had been a head chef, further fueled his passion.

From 2017 to 2018, Emmanuel trained at the Sparrow FET College, specialising in Professional Cookery. He fondly recalls the supportive environment and diverse peers, where everyone was encouraged to excel regardless of their background. With the guidance of Sparrow’s Chef Mpho Charles, Emmanuel consistently achieved top grades, establishing a solid academic foundation. By age 21, after gaining hands-on experience at the Southern Sun Sandton Hotel for a year and a half, Emmanuel became a qualified chef.

Akshay Jagjivan: Akshay began his journey at Sparrow FET College in 2019, enrolling in IT Technical Support NQF4, where he gained foundational IT knowledge and practical skills. After completing this course, he advanced to IT System Support NQF5 in 2020, further enhancing his technical expertise.

Starting as an intern in IT Technical Support at Sparrow, Akshay progressed to roles in IT System Support and as an Online Digital Assistant, providing academic, technical, and digital literacy training across departments. In May 2023, he became the Lead Software Developer at the school. The supportive environment at Sparrow and continuous learning opportunities, including a bursary for his NQF 7 studies, have been instrumental in his professional development. Grateful for the opportunities Sparrow has provided, Akshay acknowledges its pivotal role in shaping his career.

“Youth Month is an opportunity to acknowledge the potential and talent of the younger generation within our organisation. We believe it is crucial to honor this significant month in the best way possible to make a lasting impact and honor the legacy of those who paved the way for a brighter future,” continues Leona Krishna.

“We call on communities, partners, and stakeholders to join in celebrating the achievements of our youth and supporting their journey towards becoming influential change-makers, “ concludes Leona Krishna. 

For more information on Sparrow Schools Educational Trust and how you can contribute to education in our country, please visit  Sparrow Schools Educational Trust.

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