July, 2016

Assisting the young people they work with to navigate their difficult teenage years, staff from the South African Education and Environment Project’s (SAEP) Hope Scholars programme recently ran a three-day holiday workshop focused on life skills and personal development.

SAEP runs programmes at three critical phases of a child’s educational journey and the teenage years are important as habits and decisions set at this stage impact not only a child’s educational career, but their ability to reach their life potential.

“While our Hope Scholars programme focuses on supporting Grade 8 and 9 learners with their school work in order to close educational gaps, a large component of our programme is non-academic as we try to ensure that young people have the tools to thrive in all spheres of life,” explained Meghan Santella, SAEP Hope Scholars intern and volunteer.

Held at Zisukhanyo Senior Secondary School, one of two Philippi-based township schools where SAEP runs its Hope Scholars programme, the holiday offering was open to all Hope Scholars learners and comprised a variety of workshops and speakers including special guest, Buhle Zuma. A motivational speaker and former Mandela Rhodes Scholar, Zuma addressed the group on the importance of self-mastery, personal leadership, and overcoming obstacles to control one’s own life. Elaborating on time management and the importance of working hard, Zuma’s talk resonated with the learners who discussed ways to improve their school attendance.

Students were also invited to answer a self-evaluation questionnaire to determine their different personality types. Based on these students with similar traits were grouped together and challenged to come up with a list of shared strengths and weaknesses.

“By asking the learners to work together and present their findings to all the groups they were able to not only begin to know themselves a bit better, but start to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences of their class mates too,” said Santella.


Finally, the programme concluded with finance and environmental awareness sessions. Learners were encouraged to take responsibility for the environment through an informative video and interactive, educational games. And, in the finance session, SAEP Finance Manager, Kathrin Herms, taught the learners the importance of personal finance and urged them to think closely about personal budgeting, especially with regard to future expenses.

“We learned a lot from the holiday programme – building our confidence with other young people and our academics too. It also keeps us away from the bad stuff that goes on in our neighbourhoods,” said Ernia Khumalo, a Hope Scholars learner from Sophumelela Senior Secondary School.

SAEP supports and motivates children and young people in need to thrive through education, life skills and psycho-social support. With a primary focus on the township of Philippi in the Western Cape, SAEP’s programmes provide support at critical developmental milestones from early childhood to young adulthood. SAEP relies on donor funding to run its programmes. To make a donation, click through here.