Our Pathways team recently had the opportunity to travel to Gqeberha to spend time with Axium alumni studying at Nelson Mandela University and Rhodes University. Catching up with our students and seeing the people they are growing into is a reminder of the importance of this work for ensuring that all our students leave school with purpose, agency and options.
Rural areas receive very little exposure to different kinds of professions. Many learners and community members are aware of only a few occupations, such as teacher, doctor, nurse, pastor, and mine labourer. In addition to this, information regarding university requirements, application processes, and bursary schemes are scarce.
Through our Pathways Programme, we work with community members and learners from grades 8 - 12 to provide the knowledge, skills and support required to make wise subject choices, prioritise their study decisions and apply for tertiary study and other opportunities beyond the school years. We have found that when high school learners connect their school work to opportunities after school, a virtuous cycle is created that sparks motivation and higher performance, enabling many Axium alumni to access colleges and universities across the country.
So, how do we know our alumni are accessing further study or meaningful work?
These graphs show the gradual increase in the number of grade 12 learners in our Ekukhuleni programme and at Dumalisile Comprehensive High School getting admitted into tertiary institutions each year. Qhayiya Ndlela is one such student who achieved a bachelor pass with five distinctions in Geography, Life Sciences, IsiXhosa, Physical Sciences, and English, narrowly missing achieving distinctions across all his subjects. He is now a first-year student at Walter Sisulu University studying towards a Bachelor Of Medicine And Bachelor Of Surgery. Qhayiya's wish is to come back to his village and "open up libraries because I've seen the importance of knowledge and books, and because I also love reading. So I don't want people walking far distances to just read or do their research". He also hopes to give back to Axium in whatever way possible to pay forward the support and guidance given to him.
Qhayiya is not alone in this desire to give back to his community. In a recent Axium alumni survey of over 100 students, 77% of alumni said they would be willing to mentor other Axium students and 72% felt they had skills they would be willing to share. We see this in action all the time when alumni volunteer their time by visiting us during the holidays to tutor at Axium bootcamps, inspire learners with their stories or help new students settle in at university by sharing their knowledge and resources.
Alumnus, Pinky Madlebetsha attested to this, “Because of the financial & leadership teachings taught from Axium, I now have a student job that I love and enables me to meet my needs without any worry. I have also appointed myself as someone who welcomes new Axium students when they get to the city as it was done for me, I also share strategies on how they can save and make money without feeling any shame or guilt about where they come from.”
The Pathways team, who are also part of Axium’s Alumni network, feels privileged to support learners along this journey of personal and professional growth and developing a servant leadership culture and giving back to our communities. We are so proud of each of our alumni and cannot wait to see the different individuals they grow into and the different pathways they travel.