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Nobalisa + Social Employment Fund = Social Impact

In the heart of the Eastern Cape, the Nobalisa Program is more than just an educational initiative; it's a program addressing some of the nation's most pressing issues: unemployment, illiteracy, and a looming shortage of teachers. By empowering youth from rural communities to deliver isiXhosa language lessons to 4,500 learners in Grades R-3, the program is directly impacting the future prospects of these children. Integrated into the daily school routine of 33 rural schools in the Eastern Cape Province, the program leverages government-provided literacy resources and tailored Teaching at the Right Level (TARL) lesson plans to support children reading for meaning by the time they exit the Foundation Phase.

An SEF Mqanduli Road Nobalisa Team

As we mark the third year of our partnership with the Social Employment Fund (SEF) in 2024, the progress is evident. 170 new SEF staff have joined our Zithulele and Amajingqi sites, with additional placements at the new Mqanduli Road site. This expansion has invigorated our team and sparked opportunities for aspiring leaders to take their first steps as Nobalisa Mentors and School Team Leaders.

Our HR Assistant, Noluntu Magejane, who has worked closely with SEF since its inception, highlights the personal and professional growth experienced by participants, and the invaluable experience she has gained from working on the project with such a diverse group of leaders and staff. She raises a thought-provoking question about the SEF program: “Can there be provisions for permanent staff, creating lasting opportunities for individuals dedicated to the program?”

Nosipho Waqu, the Nobalisa Project Manager, shares the same passion as Noluntu regarding the SEF program and its role in providing crucial work experience for rural youth. For many, this program is a lifeline, offering stable employment and helping out-of-school youth save for tertiary education. Participants gain essential job readiness skills and receive training to become effective Nobalisa facilitators, significantly boosting their employability. According to Clotilde Angelucci from Youth Capital, “to date, the employment stimulus has shown us the potential of public employment programmes to simultaneously tackle poverty, boost community development and create work opportunities". We’ve seen this happening in 14 sectors countrywide in schools, early childhood development centres and areas categorised as economic deserts. 

An SEF Nobalisa Coffee Bay Road Team

The SEF program has been instrumental in developing participants' professional skills. While the initiative benefits first-time work seekers, others have taken this opportunity as a means of having stable employment with a stipend sufficient to meet their basic needs. This stability is particularly impactful in rural villages, where individuals can work close to home, reducing transportation costs and ensuring the well-being of their families.

HR Officer, Tumeka Mkentane shares that the experience of being part of a program that uplifts the young black population in rural communities has been immensely rewarding. This sentiment is echoed by many, who recognise the positive impact of such initiatives on the dignity and prospects of the youth in these areas.

 Nobalisa Facilitators in class

Our long-term vision for the Nobalisa Program is to develop it into a large-scale rural literacy initiative that produces Grade 3 learners capable of reading fluently in their home language. Additionally, we hope to create a pathway for post-school youth to gain work experience and eventually become qualified teachers. The SEF has provided us with the opportunity to test these ambitions at the next level of scale. 


 Angelucci, C. (2024b) #Budget2024: Why South Africa can’t afford to stop the Presidential Employment Stimulus, Youth Capital. Available at: (Accessed: 05 June 2024).



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