The Ashley Kriel Skills Development Centre celebrated its first anniversary with a graduation ceremony of 120 students at the College of Cape Town’s Crawford campus on Saturday October 14.
A total of 96 students graduated as community development workers and another 24 graduated as teachers’ assistants.
The establishment of the centre was inspired by the Nadine Cloete documentary, called Action Kommandant, which depicts the life of the slain Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) guerrilla, Ashley Kriel. He was 20 years old when he was killed in 1987.
Shortly after the release of the documentary, Bonteheuwel High School’s principal, Nicola Pather, and the Representative Council of Learners (RCL), set out on a survey to see if the community would be interested in establishing a skills development centre. They managed to get 1 500 signatures in support of this venture within a short space of time. This set the ball rolling and the skills development centre was launched. Ashley Kriel was a former pupil of Bonteheuwel High School.
Ms Pather, who has been teaching in Bonteheuwel for 31 years, said education and lifelong learning were her passions.
Many of the community development worker graduates are from the older generation, and live in Bonteheuwel, Valhalla Park and Bishop Lavis.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Ms Pather said: “I am so proud of the Bonteheuwel community. We made our choices years ago, but you never gave up. You learnt from your mistakes. You are graduating, but you cannot stop now. Each one teach one. We can only make a change with those who want to make a change.
“Our parents never had the opportunity to upskill themselves. Here you have the opportunity to become entrepreneurs. You have the potential to change from within, but we cannot do that for you. Make a difference in your own lives and then you can help others. You are ordinary people doing extraordinary work in your community.”
The skills development centre is funded by the Department of Higher Education, and training takes place at the College of Cape Town. A partnership with Klapmuts Primary School, resulted in 24 young people graduating as teachers’ assistants. The group of 24 has already been appointed at the primary school.
The skills development centre is in the process of getting accreditation for the courses it is offering, so that it can operate independently. For now, the College of Cape Town offers the courses.
Dr Lionel Scott-Muller, who is a board member of the skills development centre, said the students should use this opportunity as building blocks to improve on their skills. He also encouraged them to apply their skills
Reverend Chris Hartnick, told the graduates he “honours them for the contribution you make to society”.
“Your work comes from a service of heart. We are not in for the material gain – and that is the difference between a vocation and a job. Education and the skills you have acquired are for life. Happiness comes from being wise. Although the dynamics changed and the challenges have become more, you are working in the community, and I honour you for that,” Mr Hartnick said.