The Famhealth-NMMU Youth Leadership Academy has equipped Grade 12 Paterson High School pupil Ntsika Cikido with tools to tackle life’s challenges – and next year, despite his difficult home circumstances, he hopes to study law at university.
Ntsika, 17, of Zwide, is one of 41 high school pupils who graduated from the academy during a celebratory ceremony on Saturday evening.
The programme, which runs over eight months, teaches Grade 11 pupils the necessary leadership skills to tackle matric, university and the working world.
The free course allows youngsters from the city’s northern areas to undergo extensive training in leadership, education, human rights, entrepreneurship and fighting gangsterism, violence and drug abuse.
Only two weeks ago, Westville High School headgirl Amber Fredericks gave the academy the credit for her top marks. Amber matriculated top of her class with eight distinctions.
The project is the brainchild of Port Elizabeth doctor Jeff Govender and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Professor Darelle van Greunen.
Govender said that each year schools in the city’s northern areas and surrounds were asked to nominate five Grade 11 pupils with leadership potential to participate in the programme.
A variety of leaders from the Nelson Mandela Bay area then held workshops on topics such as the journey to becoming a leader, public speaking and social entrepreneurship, among others.
Ntsika said: “I must say, I do consider myself to be a leader now.
“Finances and my circumstances might make it difficult, but I now hope to use my skills to obtain good results in matric and to study commercial law next year.”
Sessions take place in Gelvandale over eight months at weekends and during the school holidays. Out of the more than 100 pupils who enrolled at the beginning of last year, only 41 graduated on Saturday.
“This shows the level of commitment that is required,” Govender said.
“The programme specifically aims to teach the youth skills they will need to become successful adults.”
Since its inception in 2012, 111 Grade 11 pupils from diverse backgrounds have completed the course.