The “Sizanani Mentorship programme” was launched in 2007 by Laurence Leblanc, from RATP international, the French company which operates the Gautrain. Since then, South African and foreign professionals have been mentoring learners from Alexandra township, who attend Saturday and holiday classes at St. Mary’s school (Waverley).
The purpose of Sizanani is to help Grade 11 and 12 learners from Alexandra to get access to university, by providing them tutoring classes at St Mary’s School, mentorship opportunities, and bursaries to pay the university tuition fees.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
Tertiary education in South Africa is an unequal world: a UJ study published in May 2015 showed a drop-out rate of 50 to 60% for first-year students. Students face various obstacles:
– Economic: difficulties to fund their tuition fees, need to provide some income to their families;
– Cultural: difficulties to adjust to university life and expectations as most of the time nobody in their family has had this opportunity;
– Lack of career orientation;
– Lack of support.
The Sizanani program helps Alexandra learners by providing mentorship to the learners. Mentors play a crucial role by providing our mentees with career information, counselling and motivation. In addition, our program hosts and invites on a monthly basis, motivational speakers, representative of tertiary institutions and university students to talk to our learners about a variety of different topics. Sizanani also helps the Grade 12 to enroll at UJ and other Varsities. Bursaries have also been made available by the “Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles” (Belgium), the RATP Foundation (France) and the South African businessman Herman Mashaba.
200 learners from 5 high schools in Alexandra attend classes at St Mary’s every Saturday morning and get mentorship, career orientation, support to get admitted to university, and bursaries.
- 100 % matric pass rate in 2015.
- 80% met the requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree.
- 58 % of the Grade 12 learners admitted to Universities.
- Only 3 out of 22 bursary beneficiaries dropped out.
“In 2007, I was just a little girl and never thought I will have an opportunity to go to University, but you guys changed all that.” Dimakatso Letlaka, email sent to her mentor – Lou Colson in 2015