The Job Skills Entrepreneurship Programme (JSEP) addresses the problem of youth who are not able to attain a Matric certificate due to significant gaps in their educational foundations by providing vocational training and work experience. We believe that everyone deserves a chance and that we can find productive paths for all our youth. The JSEP is dedicated to achieving a zero drop-out rate.
In 2020, Zolani enrolled in the pilot year of the JSEP after not passing grade 10. It was observed early on in the Programme that he had difficulty reading and writing, so the BI brought him to be evaluated by a specialist. He was not diagnosed with a learning or cognitive disability, nor vision or hearing impairments, he merely is unable to read or write.
Sadly, this is not a unique situation. Due to the many barriers to accessing quality education and adequate support, many children from our area have a poor foundation in literacy. According to the World Literacy Foundation, individuals with low levels of literacy are more likely to experience limited employment opportunities and lower income. As a result, they often face welfare dependency, low self-esteem, and higher levels of crime. This challenge is a contributing factor to our egregious 87% local unemployment rate.
Since Zolani was young, he has had an affinity for art. He first realised his talent when he won an art competition in primary school. When Zolani started at the JSEP, he was a very quiet learner who often went outside, and was always drawing. To honour his passion, we hosted the Gratitude Art Workshop, a week-long art therapy workshop, facilitated by professional artist Sakumzi Nyendwana, the founder of Hand in Hand Art Studio in Motherwell Township, Port Elizabeth. He thrived during the workshop, and was so proud of his work, that he invited his mother to attend the farewell ceremony to showcase his art— the only parent who attended.
We have found that the biggest obstacle to success for our young people is self-belief and the confidence they, their families and their community have in their ability to achieve their goals. The JSEP has been crafted to encompass aspects that allow for incremental achievement that build self-confidence and a real sense of achievement.
After Zolani graduated from the JSEP, there was a local job opportunity for an artist to paint murals at the government schools, as part of the Walls 4 WASH project by Viva con Agua. Ntombiza, the JSEP Manager, referred Zolani for the position, and he was later hired. Today, Zolani is an employed artist, developing his skill and gaining valuable job experience in order to build a productive career. Most importantly, he now has confidence in himself and has realised that he can focus on his strengths and what he feels accomplished in— an essential component to the learning process that is not often prioritised in conventional education.
“I had accepted that I can’t continue with school and instead will stay at home or go work in Western Cape. That changed after JSEP, and I realised that I am gifted and can make a living with this”Zolani
By partnering with the Bulungula Incubator to support our Job Skills Entrepreneurship Programme, you can make a meaningful contribution to Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE). To learn more, email Rejane at Rejane@bulungulaincubator.org.