By Rendani Mamphiswana at Takalani Foundation Fundraising gala dinner, 8 July 2017, at University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Before I begin with my closing word, I humbly request Takalani Foundation students to stand. Carrie Netshifhire, second year in Media Practices, Mulweli Matini, first year Mining Engineering, Noria Singo, first year in Logistics and Azwihangwisi Manngwe, first year Mechanical Engineering.
I extend my greetings to the volunteers and core members of our virtual office, advisory board members, mentors to our students and learners, our intellectual guests and speakers, Djs, MCs, friends and rest of attendees to this important gathering.
It gives me great pleasure to stand here today on what is the biggest gathering for the organization since inception early 2015.
The 4th industrial revolution is here. Unless we adapt, it will leave us with massive consequences. Particularly in the area of unemployment.
Many of the jobs characterized by repetition will soon be gone. The anticipated future jobs require our highest level of intellect.
Our education system will now need to prepare our children for jobs that we don’t even know. I am of the view that such is a tough ask.
Some of these jobs will require a human and machine interface. We can’t simply close our eyes and hope that by some chance our young people will be well equipped for this soon to be reality.
Considering our current unemployment reality. The need for our young people to access and succeed in higher education seem to have reached boiling point.
By mentioning this somehow dark reality, I don’t imply that we at Takalani Foundation have all the answers. However I argue that, we cannot and should not begin conversations about the future while those who will be most affected by it are still in the streets. Qualifying learners are sitting at home hoping for a saviour to come.
At Takalani Foundation, we identify with the challenges of our young people. They want to lead us, but we have not created a suitable and flouring environment for them to do so. We have not done enough to prepare them for this blink and unknown future that I have described above.
As an organization we are gaining confidence by the day that a flourishing environment must be characterised by mentors (Snr students, professionals and business owners), by a culture reading and access to higher education by all who qualify. At Takalani Foundation we are making this a reality and we will continue to mobilize resources for these task that we believe is a pre request to “Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today”.
Going forward, we will be intensifying our mentorship programme to gain more of the awesome results that we have observed to date. To ensure comprehensive support to our current and future students, we will be establishing campus offers in the New Year. Lastly, we will march forward to building community/school based libraries in an attempt elevate our literacy levels for those in Secondary and Primary school. We are of the strong view that “A leading nation is a Reading nation”.
To achieve all these will require continuous resource mobilization. With the help of our advisory board team, a network of professionals and business owners we are standing more confident looking at the ideas that we will begin to test, starting the second half of 2017. We invite you to be part of this journey as we “Develop Tomorrow’s Leaders Today”. One of our immediate task is to establish a full-time central office to administer all our activities in an effective and timeous manner.
In closing, to hero and heroine. The late Patrick Vhudilangi Netshifhire who passed away at the age of 27 on a tragic accident in November 2007. It is Patrick, who saw something in me while I was in primary school and he challenged many in my village of Matondoni to work harder so as to create opportunities to exit the village for better opportunities. For reasons I will never understand, he was no more by the time I graduated at Wits University in 2008.
However, Patrick left a seed of love for our people in me. He didn’t tell me to start a foundation. I didn’t even know they is such a thing called a foundation. In my heart I knew that I must continue what he started. I later realised that to do on my own in an adhoc basis is not going to achieve the desired and sustainable results. This led to the birth of Takalani Foundation in 2015. The world needs more Patrick, men and women who leave a growing seed behind when their time is up.
And my mother who was unable to proceed to higher education after completing her matric in 1989. From my younger days, she kept pushing and reminding me that education is my best chance for a better life. Her famous phrase which linger in my mind today is “No one can take away your education. It is yours. You will go to the grave with it”. Our country is full of mothers like my mother and they need our helping hand, not for themselves but for their children to be put on a path that could even rescue the one South Africa we all love.
I echo the very same words that my mother gave while growing up. Upon finishing my undergraduate qualification in Chemical Engineering at Wits University in 2008, I began to not only see but experience education moving me towards a better life that my mother described. I wanted the same experience for each and every young person. With Takalani Foundation, we are standing in that gap, for our young people to move towards prosperous lives, which will also rescue their families from poverty and subsequently our country and continent. At this moment, Education remain our best and quickest route out of poverty.
I leave you with this moving quote, “In the end, Tipping Points are a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action. Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push – in just the right place – it can be tipped. ” – Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point
I thank you very much for your attention and God bless you.