Every year, a large number of matriculants from disadvantaged communities exit school with little to no information about how to pursue their studies at institutions of higher learning and other available opportunities due to lack of career guidance at schools.

Since 2017, the Thari Programme, a project of Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation has hosted three career expos that have impacted eight high schools in Diepsloot as part of its work in coordinating a multi-sectoral stakeholder collaboration in that community. The expo sought to address some of these issues by creating a framework that allows young people to lift themselves out of poverty and to become independent and empowered.

This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the safety restrictions in place, the Thari Programme rolled out a career guidance programme on a smaller scale at Diepsloot Combined School targeted at 130 grade 12 learners. This year’s career guidance seeks to address anxiety and frustration currently facing learners. Julius Kgole (also known as Dragon from Skeem Saam television show) motivated the learners and shared tips on how to navigate through uncertainty. “In every storm, there are opportunities to be identified. It is crucial for learners to allocate this time to embrace their studies, stay focused, to study and plan for tertiary education,” said Julius Kgole.

According to a Brown Centre Chalkboard study, learners have lost almost a full term of school, depending on their grade. It appears that many will attend only half the school days in the second half of the year due to rotation and implementing social distancing measures. International research shows that such learning losses could have lasting implications, even stretching into the labour market.

For many learners, who come from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, the pandemic affects on the school year has caused confusion and anxiety. These learners need motivation and information to access opportunities post-school. The career guidance day ensured that the confusion caused by Covid-19 was dealt with. “This programme plays an important role in igniting and supporting learner interests, identifying strengths and weaknesses; capacitates students at risk of poor outcomes, discourages school drop-outs and helps learners make informed decisions about their subject choices and pathways,” said Bernice Maponyane, programmes manager, Adopt-a-School Foundation.

According to Nono Maseko from South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), society underestimates the importance of mental health. Many learners have been affected by the pandemic, and Sadag is committed to addressing anxieties that learners face towards exams. We are here to give support, especially during this difficult time.

Today was an important day for the Diepsloot Combined matric learners as they were equipped to soldier on through the Covid-19 pandemic storm. “We are here to ensure the matric class of 2020 can rise despite the disruptions we have had during this academic year. We are committed to ensuring they emerge victorious,” said Mr Maringa, principal of Diepsloot Combined.

Watch the career day video below: