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What is the link between Nelson Mandela and the Skills Development program of our local partner Rhiza in South Africa?

In South Africa, February 11 is a historic day for many residents. On this day, in 1990, Nelson Mandela was released after a 27-year sentence. He fought for a fairer and more equal South Africa where everyone would have a chance for a liveable life regardless of his or her origin. This was different during the apartheid regime (1948-1990) where the quality of education for the dark population was poor. The better jobs were for the white population and this is just one small example of the inequality that South Africa has known (and still does). Entire generations had to make do with a job as a gardener, cleaner or day laborer. There was not much more in it ...

In 1994, Nelson Mandela became president and one of his spearheads was to train the people disadvantaged by apartheid in relevant skills. Skills are needed to grow the economy and businesses. Entire generations have not had access to quality education, health care and good (better paying) jobs. The differences between a white youth and a dark person who grew up at the same time are great.

In the townships where Rhiza is active we see the effect of these years of suppression of opportunities. After all, poverty also affects the next generation. Because even though you have already received (primary) education, there are no financial resources to continue learning. There are no role models. Young people lack an example in their own environment that can help with homework or can tell you what is expected of you if you have a permanent job.

“I come from a doomed background. I grew up to be part of the race to survive and nothing more… The environment around me conditioned me to believing that all my hopes were unrealistic and would never come true. ” - Julia Zwane, Rhiza student '19, tells her story in this impressive video.

Together with Rhiza, Net4kids wants to tackle precisely this inequality. That is why we invest in the Skills Development program so that young people from the townships also have a fair chance on the local labor market.

Skills Development Program

Thanks to the support of the business community, such as investor Valori that will focus their support in the coming three years on this program for young people in the townships. Rhiza offers various vocational training courses, from education to fashion, but IT is also an important pillar in the Skills Development program.

The level of the education system in South Africa can be divided into so-called NQF levels. NQF stands for: National Qualifications Framework. These levels go from 1-10 with level 1 logically being the lowest. Rhiza offers levels 3, 4 and 5. Level 3 is the entry level in the IT skills program. Formally it is called End Using Computing and during this training the youngsters learn to deal with Word, Excel, Basic administration and similar programs. This level is in high demand for entry-level jobs in the townships. Level 4 is formally called Tech support. Here the youngsters learn to solve software problems, but also hardware repair is included. Level 5 is to speak in technical terms High End. This includes designing apps, for example. Realistically, most jobs can be found in level 3, but the other levels do increase the average level, which is of course positive for the long term, growing to better paying jobs, or starting your own company with more knowledge (in a another program from Rhiza, for example, the Enterprise Development program).

Work Readiness

Rhiza is an organization that is very locally embedded. In addition to Dutch founder Alef Meulenberg, the team in South Africa consists entirely of local experts who are continuously in conversation with the young people in the townships. What is going on and what are local solutions to local problems? These are essential questions when working with young people from the townships. Rhiza continues to learn and develop herself. Since last year, they therefore offer the Work Readiness program in addition to these skills training courses.

During the Work Readiness program, young people mainly learn soft skills such as applying for a job, attitude and maintaining structure. The combination of Skills training and Work Readiness not only helps young people to find a job, but is actually meant to be able to hold on to a job. These are very current challenges that organizations like Rhiza are facing.

Together with the business community in the Netherlands, we not only support Rhiza with a financial contribution, but also with the knowledge and expertise of employees of these companies. Visualfabriq is already taking the lead with them in this Unleash Your Excellence program for these young people, and more companies will follow this year. Also something for your company? We would like to hear it.

"It always seems impossible, until it's done." - Nelson Mandela