It was Former President Nelson Mandela who once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Both Madiba and former ANC President, OR Tambo, have attested that any country that does not care about its youth, does not deserve its future. Equally, it is our belief that a community that does not care about its youth is a community doomed to fail. The youth are the future of any community and society.
Against this background and in a ground breaking, community led initiative, the ANC Parliamentary Constituency Office (PCO) in Vulindlela, a black residential area in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, has established a Community Fund to support needy and deserving students further their education. The Vulindlela Community Fund (VCF), which will be capitalised from monthly debits of a minimum of R200.00 contributed voluntarily by community members, intends to enable youth in the area access bursaries to pursue their education in institutions of higher learning such as Universities and Technical Vocational Education and Training Colleges.
Whilst we appreciate the strides our government has made in recent history of ensuring access to higher education by poor, needy black students, we believe that government alone cannot and will not be able, in the foreseeable future, to ensure that every black child has access to higher education and the prospects of graduating from poverty to a semblance of a better life. The VCF initiative is our answer in partnering with our government in this respect.
Led by the community, the VCF intends to mobilize at least 200 volunteer contributors by the beginning of 2016. This ambitious plan will then make it possible for the VCF to be capitalised to the tune of R400 000.00 per annum; putting the VCF in a position to sponsor at least ten (10) needy students from the area with their tertiary education fees.
The initiative and the rationale for its establishment has been widely welcomed by various structures in the Vulindlela Community. Many contributors to the fund have also cited that they are beneficiaries of our hard fought democracy. They hold the view that by contributing to this initiative they are giving thanks to those who died, got imprisoned and were forced into exile in the cause of the struggle for our freedom and liberation.
Amongst the structures consulted to date have been public servants like teachers, nurses and social workers; organised labour, traditional leadership and various professionals. Political leaders and leaders in business are also in full support of this initiative. The success of this project is therefore guaranteed. Everybody believes that if all of us work together to give our children quality education, we will be safeguarding their future, the future of their families as well as the future of our communities.
The Adhoc Management Committee of the VCF has planned to convene a VCF Launch Conference in July 2016. This conference, to be attended by only delegates who are contributors to the VCF, will amongst others adopt a VCF constitution, elect a VCF board and a Management Committee as well as adopt rules that will guide the criteria to be followed when sponsoring needy students from Vulindlela.
The area of Vulindlela is blessed with 21 high schools, whilst the criteria for disbursement of bursaries by VCF is still a subject of discussion, it is nonetheless common cause that all beneficiaries will be drawn from these high schools. The better a school performs, the better the chances of its students being supported by VCF. This initiative will therefore create necessary constructive competition between the Vulindlela High schools. This will obviously improve the pass rates at all levels including at the matric level in Vulindlela.
There are currently 25 contributors to this community initiative, however we are confident that by the July launch conference date, the numbers would have quadrupled and by the beginning of 2016, the fund would have been able to have the targeted 200 contributors.
Vulindlela means “Open the Way” in English. We believe this initiative can be replicated in other communities. We also believe that all of us, wherever we are, can make a humble, positive contribution to the circumstances of those who are worse off than ourselves. We also believe that we, whoever we are and wherever we are, can open the way for our youth to escape the scourge of poverty and not only graduate themselves out of poverty to a semblance of a better life, but also be an important catalyst to the removal of their families, their communities as well as their countrymen and women from grinding poverty.
Active interest and participation in the education of our youth, provides an opportunity to minimise the social problems that arise from those who could not afford to go to universities or FET colleges. The problems of gangsterism, drugs, alcohol abuse as well as crime, amongst our youth, are well recorded in our country. The VCF is of the view that an initiative of this nature will instil a positive community activism amongst the residents of Vulindlela, which will in turn promote the values of humanness and civic uprightness.
Mr Patrice Motsepe, one of our eminent and well known black mining moguls and a multi-billionaire, has always made the point that he is a product and a beneficiary of our democracy. Whilst Mr Motsepe continues to plough back to the South African communities through various avenues and means, what counts most to some of us is his example of sponsoring many needy black student’s tertiary education. He has consistently called upon other big business to make an investment in the education of our youth. He has been and continues to be an inspiration for some of us to make our humble contribution to the Vulindlela Community Fund.
The VCF has chosen to focus on youth education because we view education as a key step in navigating the major potholes of life. Education opens up opportunities that will otherwise remain shut in its absence. Education is the key to success and prosperity.
Contributions to the Vulindlela Community Fund are appreciated and may be deposited in the following account:
Name of the account: Vulindlela Community Fund
Account No. 9304345220
Comrade Jackson Mthembu, ANC NEC Member and ANC Member of Parliament deployed to the Vulindlela PCO