FROM SPORTS TO STUDIES: Several members of Nemato Change a Life (NCAL), the former Nemato Sports Federation, were recently enrolled in Further Education and Training institutions in Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth. Making their way to an FET institution in Port Elizabeth were (from left) Ashley Backward, Adwa Quma, Bonisani Magopheni and Lunga Vulindlu
THERE was great excitement at Nemato Change a Life (NCAL) – the former Nemato Sports Federation – when six members were admitted to Further Education and Training (FET) studies in Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown recently.
NCAL founder Jan Blom said the most important challenge for NCAL during the school holidays was to find study opportunities for its older members.
FET combines academic learning with skills training and is three years of study. The minimum entry level is grade 10 and the quality and level of education is much higher than at the township schools.
Facing massive unemployment on the one hand and an estimated 800 000 vacancies due to lack of skilled people on the other, FET studies offer an excellent chance to bridge that gap and get good qualifications and much needed skills.
NCAL sees FET as a great opportunity to offer its members a way forward in life, but also recognises it is a tough challenge coming from township schools that don’t teach sufficient basics in mathematics and literacy.
The NCAL homework class has already begun identifying study options for its grade 9 members for studies in 2013, and a positive side effect of these developments is that about 10 old members reapplied for membership to NCAL.
A Stenden student from China who studied in Port Alfred for a few months, Xu Hui (aka Allen), introduced members to the concept of summer school. This implies lessons during the holiday to improve school results. NCAL used summer school to prepare members for the FET studies. The lessons showed the members had to improve their mathematics lessons in the homework class for grade 7 to 9 to get them ready for FET.
Members who leave Port Alfred will not necessarily leave NCAL.
“As long as a member stays focused on success in life, we offer lifetime membership, and this holiday we started our Nemato Alumni,” said NCAL founder, Jan Blom.
Office and utility challenges
For most of the holidays NCAL was without internet while waiting for Telkom to install a landline to its new office. Soon after the landline was installed, the municipality started renovating the RDP house, and this made it difficult to perform the usual office work on time.
It is hoped NCAL will get most of the outstanding work completed this month.
Difficulty with water and electricity supply and the toilet form part of running an organisation in a disadvantaged township. It took the municipality about a month before they come to empty the toilet which could not be flushed.
“That was not enjoyable and definitely not suitable for a picture in this newsletter,” said Blom.
NCAL still does not have electricity in its office, but uses a connection from its neighbour. However, the prepaid electricity system often does not recognise the neighbour’s box number, making it often impossible to buy electricity.
Half the time the water tap is dry, but sometimes NCAL is lucky and the municipality brings water by truck.
“Now they filled up our water tank, so that there is water for us and our neighbours all the time,” reported Blom. “Our tap water is not great anyway. It is not healthy and sometimes it is so muddy that you can’t look through a glass of water. We are busy installing our water filter for drinkable tap water. The kids growing up here are used to dealing with these challenges.”
The start of the homework class was unfortunately delayed, as there was no classroom, and only recently has a building been identified that can be used for the homework class. NCAL wishes to thank Tony Bryant for helping move furniture to the new building.
With the homework class re-established NCAL is trying to put a better maths programme in place and is looking for volunteers to assist in homework class. No high level mathematics teaching skills are required, but passion is a prerequisite. If you can help, please contact NCAL.
An alumni group for members studying outside Port Alfred has been established. As long as members stay focused on success in life they will have lifetime Nemato membership.
The alumni is about staying in contact, motivating and helping each other and growing a network. Nemato helps the members and the members in turn help each other. It is believed the alumni will grow over the years to a strong and important part of the organisation. Alumni members have already shown a keen interest in staying connected.
The Learning Trust
The Learning Trust has become a funder of the NCAL learning programme. It not only gives NCAL a broader financial base to run its empowerment programme, but also a sign NCAL is doing a good job. The Learning Trust will support the homework class and the crèche for Early Childhood Development (ECD) that NCAL wants to start this year.