Suraya is the HR Manager for IkamvaYouth, an organisation which provides an after school programme for learners in underprivileged areas. This incredible establishments programme focuses on a tutoring model (amongst other support services) which encourages learners to pull themselves and each other out of poverty through education.

While Suraya supports IkamvaYouth through various HR practices, systems and advice, she boasts about the privilege of being able to support the real change-makers. Suraya says, “the IkamvaYouth staff go above and beyond to support, encourage and motivate the South African youth so they can secure a better future through education.” She continues, “I remember being interviewed for the position and being asked, “Why IkamvaYouth?”. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I got emotional at the interview (not very professional), but because of what IkamvaYouth’s purpose is in society. It really hits home.”

Suraya is the second eldest, out of four women. “We were raised in a small farming town in Kwa Zulu Natal. My mother was a shoe factory worker and my dad was a bookkeeper. Both of my parents had little to no education but did their best to provide for us. More importantly, I think they both understood the importance of education and what it could mean for our futures. I didn’t value it as much back then, but the older I got, I saw the wisdom in their encouragement. I just knew I wanted a better life, and education was the key.” She continues, “the rest is history. Here I am, working for an organisation which has a deep desire to better others’ lives through dedication and support. I hope that in my own small way, I don’t only support IkamvaYouth through HR but I can also continue to give back.”

What are some of the challenges IkamvaYouth face?

Suraya says, “it is estimated that only 50% of learners will make it to grade 12. That is approximately more than half a million learners each year. That translates to half a million young people with little to no education or prospects for a decent living and a successful future. Some of the contributing factors lie in our dysfunctional school systems and an unequal education system. For example, it’s estimated that out of 200 black learners only one will qualify to study engineering; however, amongst white learners, it sits at ten. This poses an alarming challenge for our country.”

How do you overcome these challenges?

“IkamvaYouth provides an after-school programme to underprivileged youth across five provinces in South Africa. The programme focuses on a tutoring model, amongst other support services, which encourages learners to pull themselves, and each other, out of poverty through education. IkamvaYouth acknowledges that this a huge mission. For that reason, we recognise the need to partner with other organisations with the same vision. This helps us to increase our impact and reach as much as possible.”

How is IkamvaYouth making a difference in South Africa?

“As mentioned, we are making a difference mainly through our tutoring programme. It’s through this programme that IkamvaYouth has been delivering excellent outcomes for the past 16 years. Between 2011 and 2017, 84% of our learners passed matric, 87% obtained a bachelor pass (and therefore gained access to university), 87% were placed in learnerships, tertiary education or given the opportunity to upgrade their marks. And lastly, 1591 learners have completed matric with the support of IkamvaYouth. On a more individual level, many of our learners were the very first within their families to receive a tertiary education. This has literally changed the lives of their families, communities and their futures.”

Any words of encouragement for people and/or communities who are in need of hope?

“As someone who comes from a background where an education was not guaranteed, and now sitting in a position that has been awarded to me because I was fortunate enough to get an education, I would say to the South African youth that it is true: an education can and will change the course of your life, your future and that of your family. Don’t give up. Keep your head down, work hard, study hard. It will pay off.”