Mpumalanga has 65 new graduates. What does that mean for South Africa?

On Friday 17th April, 65 adults graduated at the Hazyview Digital Learning Centre (HDLC). I was in the crowd, taking photos, and enjoying the celebrations (I wish all of our regular readers could have been there). As I watched the ecstatic young students come up to the Tree to receive their certificates, I asked myself the question: what do 65 new graduates mean for South Africa, a country of approximately 55 million people?

First, these are rural people who have dedicated a year of their life to becoming digital, 21st century people.

Their names now appear on internationally recognised information-technology certificates. They have completed professionally moderated English for business courses. They leave with an industry-recognised certificate in food and beverage management. And then, seven of these young adults have qualified as coffee baristas, capable of making specialty coffees. Here are 65 skilled young people ready to contribute to the growing economy of Mpumalanga and South Africa.

Second, our graduates prove that, together, we can create a better future. When NGOs, retired-teachers, private businesses, corporate South Africa, and motivated students work together, we can make a difference. A massive difference. Since 2012, more than 500 young adults have graduated through Good Work Foundation’s programmes in Mpumalanga. Where would those 500 individuals be if we hadn’t joined forces? As graduates, what will the implications be for their families and children? What will 500 skilled young people mean for our province and its contribution to South Africa’s economy?

Last, but not least, each one of these graduates has younger brothers and sisters who look up to them. Be under no illusion, our graduates are heroes, and if you need proof, read Thulani Dube’s story. Here are 500 people who might not have all finished High School. Many of them struggled with their reading and writing or fell onto hard times (read about Teaman Manzini). And many of them could have said “I can’t afford to study.” But all of them have overcome the challenges.

Every graduation at HDLC means something huge for South Africa. For our people. For our belief in a better future. Every time a young adult stands under the Tree and is capped, we have another opportunity for a person who has overcome all kinds of obstacles to stand up and say: How can I pay it forward? What can I do for my country? How am I going to be part of a South Africa that we all love?

65. Amazing. We are so proud.

Enjoy the photos. This IS the future of South Africa.

Photos and story by Ryan James.

When I took this photo it struck me how determined young South Africans are. Those eyes don't lie.

When I took this photo it struck me how determined young South Africans are. Those eyes don’t lie.

Graduations mean so much more than many might think. Three generations of one family come from all corners of Mpumalanga to witness their loved one graduate.

Graduations mean so much more than many might think. Three generations of one family come from all corners of Mpumalanga to witness their loved one graduate.

Graduates singing the South African national anthem.

Graduates singing the South African national anthem with pride and respect.

Our heritage, our voices, our choir, our young students gathered under the Tree.

Our heritage, our voices, our choir, our young students gathered under the Tree.

Four graduates who are still in High School. They've started early: Goodman, Weekend, Terry and Dan.

Four graduates who are still in high school. They’ve started early: Goodman, Weekend, Terry and Dan.

Graduation is one of the most joyous occasions of the year. And the GWF choir comes out in full force to support it.

Graduation is one of the most joyous occasions of the year. And the GWF choir comes out in full force to support it.

The smile that says it all.

The smile that says it all. 15 of the 65 students graduated as part of Absa-sponsored “Bridging Year” Course.

Guest speaker, Rory O'Flaherty, tells the graduates that every time he comes to Hazyview, he is inspired by the vision, the hope and the determination of Mpumalanga's young people.

Guest speaker, Rory O’Flaherty, tells the graduates that every time he comes to Hazyview, he is inspired by the vision, the hope and the determination of Mpumalanga’s young people. Rory is a visiting teacher from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

Graduating as a vida e caffe qualified Barista: Nkateko Maphanga.

Graduating as a vida e caffe qualified Barista: Nkateko Maphanga.

Digital facilitator, Glenrose Mashigo, with graduate Goodman Mnisi.

Digital facilitator, Glenrose Mashigo, with graduate Goodman Mnisi. Goodman is 17 years old and still part of an Orphans and Vulnerable Children programme. Neither his age nor his circumstances are stopping him and Glenrose is determined to make sure this young man is a 100% success.

 

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