After struggling to get tertiary education for three years in a row, Simphiwe Mngoma, now a Wits graduate, addresses South Africa’s educational challenges, together with a group of other local youths through The National Applications Centre (NAC), which he founded in 2008 and currently heads. The National Applications Centre was founded to address four major gaps they identified in SA’s educational system:
- Centralising undergraduate applications for admission, residence and funding; across all South African universities, FET Colleges and foreign public institutions of higher learning;
- Poor career guidance from an early age;
- The huge gap in basic computer skills between students living in the cities and those from rural, disadvantaged schools;
- Capacitating disadvantaged youth ie. school drop-outs, out-of-school youth and unemployed graduates;
Preparing for the future
After three years of hardships and struggling, reaching out to different educational systems, failing to win and eventually getting a scholarship through the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, Mngoma feels there is so much that everyone can do in improving the current education system.
“It is disheartening and depressing to have an ambition to pursue your goals by studying further, only to realise that finances become a huge stumbling block in realising your goals, even when armed with a good matric pass after months of sleepless nights,” he says.
“Financial exclusion and lack of access to information and educational funding has far reaching implications on young people in terms of how they look at themselves and participate in the economy.”
The NAC aims to address these current problems through the provision of career guidance programmes to Grade 9 to 12 learners so that by the time they sit for their Matric exams, they are already working on subjects that are a stepping stone to what they will study at tertiary level.
Through the use of mobile classrooms, The NAC goes into rural, remote and disadvantaged schools to teach basic computer skills that students can use in their search for bursaries, studying institutions and applying when it’s time to leave high school.
Calling on business
The organisation survives and continues to deliver such great programmes through partnerships with local municipalities, government agencies and schools themselves.
The NAC is calling upon the business sector to assist financially in furthering their cause and ensuring the improvement of SA’s education system. “Implementation happens on a project-to-project basis and this makes it difficult for us to deliver properly on our programmes,” says Mngoma. “For each and every project we undertake we train and hire unemployed graduates from that particular province to work as NAC facilitators, and due to lack of defined and continued funding, it becomes difficult to keep them employed.”
Visit www.applicationscentre.co.za for more information.