The pressure to select a career path can be a confusing and daunting experience for most grade 12 learners.  This leads to many matriculants from disadvantaged communities leaving school with little to no information about continuing post-matric due to a lack of career guidance.

On Friday, 13 August, the Thari Programme, a project of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, hosted a Career Day for Diepsloot Combined School Grade 12 learners. Since 2017, as part of coordinating a multi-sector stakeholder collaboration in the Diepsloot community, Thari has hosted an annual Thari Career Expo for eight high schools in Diepsloot.

This year, the career day was themed, “Providing Guidance and Psychosocial Support for Grade 12 Learners amid the COVID-19 Pandemic”. The day aimed to benefit over 120 learners from Diepsloot Combined School’s Grade 12 learners.

The event focused on engaging and motivating young people to continue with a clear  plan post-matric. It provided psychosocial support, encouraged them to become self-sufficient, and helped empower them to be active participants in South Africa’s economy.

According to Peter Mahani, a Project Manager of the Thari Programme, a baseline study was conducted with the grade 12 learners to assess needs and information gaps.

“Career guidance helps learners understand their strengths and weaknesses and matches them to their skills and interests so that they choose the best suitable career choice,” Mahani said.

The Thari Programme Career Day mobilised a range of stakeholders who offered the learners information about career opportunities. The speakers included representatives from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust,  National Student Financial Aid Scheme, TV personality, Julius Kgole and Former Diepsloot Combined learner Phakama Xhabanisa. The keynote address was delivered by the Chief Operating Officer, of Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, Melanie Spencer.

“Never let anything stand in the way of your education, stay focused and always do your best. You will succeed and make us immensely proud.  You will pandemic has been very disruptive to your education and created much fear and anxiety,” said Melanie.

According to Senzekile Shongwe from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, stress and pressure is normal in Grade 12. However, how the learners handle the stress is what is important. She shared tips on how learners can identify stress and how to deal with it effectively. She also shared her personal experience when she was in grade 12.

Julius Kgole motivated the learners and said, “ All the speakers today, are here to motivate, guide and ensure that you have the necessary information to make informed decisions about your career and register at the right institutions. From now forth it is all up to you. We have equipped you, stay focussed, study hard and identify your God given talent. Make us proud, we do not want to see you roaming the streets of Diepsloot with no direction”.

Ms Mojapelo,  closed the session thanking all the speakers and the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation for hosting the Career Day year-on-year. “ We are grateful that you equip our learners and ensure they do not get left behind amid the pandemic,” concluded Mojapelo.