Poverty and education are inextricably linked. Without quality education, a person is exceedingly limited in their options for a productive career, contributing to and compounding the many challenges of poverty. Lack of access to any form of education in our community has resulted in 60% of our adult population unable to read or write, and only 9% of community members over 20 years old earning a Matric certificate. People from our community have been unfairly restricted in reaching their full potential.
Over the years, the Bulungula Incubator has worked hard with our community to create and advocate for better quality education. In 2019, we opened the doors to the first ever high school in our area, the Bulungula College (BC). Prior to opening the BC, the only option for learners who wanted to pursue a high school education was to leave their families, rent accommodation, and attend a high school far from our community. Not only was this an expensive form of education (that most in our community could not afford), but going away to a school in an unstructured environment proved to be difficult for learners, resulting in many dropping out. Since 2005, an average of 6 people from our community have passed high school each year.
In 2021, the Bulungula College graduated its fist class, and we are proud to announce that we have contributed 28 Matrics (63% pass rate), the most to ever graduate in a single year from our community. Half our learners are 20 years or older and have failed multiple years during primary school. Many had given up on education altogether until the opening of the Bulungula College. Only one of the parents of our 28 matriculants had ever completed high school, and the vast majority of parents have never completed primary school. Our learners have persevered and overcome many challenges to get to this point. It is important for us to measure our school’s achievement based on our community and unique circumstances, and graduating 28 is a profound accomplishment for our area.
But this is just the start. We have worked hard these past three years to be able to offer quality schooling for learners grades 10-12. Now that we are no longer expanding grades, we are entering into ‘phase two’ of our plan. To improve and strengthen our school, we came together as a teaching staff to strategically plan for our next phase. During our workshop, facilitated by Mariette Visser from ISASA, we revamped our vision, mission, values, and ethos, and set forth an actionable plan to provide the best quality education to our learners that we can.
We are feeling excited, refreshed, and ready to begin the school year and build off our incredible successes so far. We believe that educated and well-cared for children will carry families out of poverty and contribute to a thriving South Africa future.