Inspiring matric pupils to do better

HAZEL ALLIES-HUSSELMAN

In an attempt to ease Grade 12 pupils’ anxiety about their last year at school, Salesian Life Choices invited matriculants who were part of its leadership training to inspire the current members.

On Saturday January 23, the group gathered at the organisation’s Lansdowne base, where 12 of its former members shared their recipes for success.

Monique Niekerk, a matriculant at Modderdam High School who will be studying anthropology at the University of Cape Town (UCT) this year, as well as Anushqah van der Ventel, a Manenberg High School matriculant who will be studying journalism at Rhodes University, and Thobinceba “Thobey” Qambela, a second-year fashion design student at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), were among the group of former members.

Said coach Nicole Joubert: “The pupils have been on the leadership programme since Grade 11. Today is about how they feel about Grade 12. Everybody feels nervous at the thought of their last year of school, and the objective of today’s exercise is to ease the anxiety.

“Our three guests are all former members of the programme who are here to motivate, give advice and share what can be expected. The 75 current members gathered in smaller groups to do some activities and interact with the former members.

“The idea is to share what the former pupils did to get through Grade 12. It is also an opportunity for the current Grade 12 pupils to reflect what values they possess to help themselves with their school work, and, at the end of the day, they will each write a letter to their respective principals and write down the marks they hope to achieve at the end of the year. In the letter, they also have to thank their principals and make a pledge for the future.”

The Leaders’ Quest, as the two-year programme is known, starts in Grade 11.

The focus is on leadership and academics, and tutoring in mathematics, maths literacy, physical science, accounting and life science is held every Saturday. Ms Joubert said the group, who are all from schools along the Klipfontein corridor, including Heideveld, Athlone, Manenberg, Bonteheuwel, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Philippi and Khayelitsha, are chosen based on their Grade 10 results, and must be committed to the programme for two to three years.

Anushqah, who achieved six distinctions and whose ahievements were highlighted in the media, said the tutoring she received at the Salesian Life Choices helped her get good results.

“At school, we were more than 40 in a class, and here our classes are 20 people maximum, and there’s more individual attention. Everything was explained thoroughly to us. The leadership training also helped me to come out of my shell. I used to be shy, and it also taught me to become independent.

“I remember being on the receiving end of this session last year. In Grade 12, everything feels foreign, but this session helps you to become more aware of the things you must do or avoid.

“One boy’s story of last year stood out for me, as he is also from a gang-infested area, and that motivated me to do well.

“The programme also helped me to apply at university – without someone to assist me, I wouldn’t have known how to do it. There’s always someone to help you here, and we are always made to feel welcomed. This becomes a second home to us all. We even had the opportunity to complete our school projects here, using their resources.

“They even picked us up from home, and there’s always a listening ear when you have problems,” Anushqah said.

Buhle Mbodle, who is a Grade 12 pupil at Groenvlei High School, said the programme not only helped him with his school work, it also boosted his confidence.

“Grade 12 might be a challenge for me, but I’m hoping to overcome my obsticles. I am excited to learn so that I can see myself at university.

“The road to success is not easy, but here I get the motivation to never give up and to never lose hope. After all, we are the future leaders of this country,” Buhle said.