Resourceful Young Children

Resourceful Young Children
Learning Brief

Keiskamma Trust

Opening new paths for career guidance

Category: Resourceful Young Children | Formalisation of human resource development | 21 March, 2013 - 14:12


The Vulindlela Centre, established by the Keiskamma Trust, is located in Hamburg in the province of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. It is a resource and training centre for high school learners, recent school graduates and dropouts, and other young adults. Vulindlela means to “open the path” and one way that the Centre aims to live up to its name is to ensure that rural young people have appropriate career guidance.

At the Vulindlela Centre young people can participate in individual or group career guidance sessions, and they can access the technological and physical resources needed to improve their career decision-making. The Centre provides free use of its computers and the Internet, printers, fax machines, photocopy machines, and a reference library to young people, for career or higher education purposes. Trained volunteers are on hand to assist young people with Internet research on tertiary education, employment opportunities, and funding sources; and to help them complete the required application forms.

This Centre meets an important need in the rural Eastern Cape, where there is a knowledge void regarding the range of career options and further education possibilities for young people. Vocational guidance is lacking in schools, and adequate role models are not visible in a context where the unemployment rate is over 80%.

Career awareness challenges facing rural youth

The Centre tailors its services to the needs of community and addresses a number of factors that negatively impact rural youth’s awareness of further education and career opportunities.

First, very few matric students receive individual career counselling. Even when such individual counselling is made available only a handful accept it because there is a perception that it is only for the “best” students who actually have a chance of getting into a tertiary education institution. This seems to indicate that high school graduates do not really understand other learning and training opportunities available to them, or the wide range of careers to be considered that do not require an advanced degree.

Second, there is a tendency for young people from small rural communities to unquestioningly follow educational or career paths that others in the community have pursued – whether successfully or not. This seems to indicate low levels of self-knowledge and a poor understanding of the real future employment opportunities and how to prepare for these.

Third, the costs involved in accessing tertiary education are often prohibitive for poor young people from remote rural areas. Application and registration fees range from R50 to R300, which lies beyond the financial capacity of most rural households. Unfortunately, in order to apply for financial assistance, students must be registered at an institution of higher learning.

Fourth, in remote rural areas practical training, assistantships, and voluntary work experience are difficult for young people to complete in such poor and remote situations.  If any paid short term work comes up in their local areas (eg. Census, EPWP or CWP) they feel obliged to drop training or work experience opportunities in favour of immediate income opportunities which will “put food on the table”.  It is very hard for these young people to bank on future long-term possibilities in the context of their current family poverty.

The Vulindlela career involvement strategy

In order to address the challenges listed above that face rural youth’s decision-making capacity, Vulindlela implemented the following strategic actions:

At the start of the 2013 academic year Vulindlela incorporated a focus on vocational and career awareness into all of its education program levels (i.e. Early childhood development, Primary School aftercare, youth and young adults program).

Vulindlela started a “creative development program” aimed at building young people’s self esteem, which runs at four of its Centres.

In order to debunk myths about the “worth” of career guidance, Vulindlela Centre volunteers encourage all kinds of different youth to come for career guidance sessions. Volunteers also focus on exposing youth to a wide range of career and education possibilities.

Vulindlela has approached and initiated dialogue with the National Benchmark Test committee at the University of Cape Town to discuss extending the reach of their test program into more remote and rural areas of the Eastern Cape, and to discuss the limits of application fees.

Lessons for others

  • Rural youth begin the career decision-making process far too late in their lives, and they are only exposed to vocational training at the end of their high school careers.

Suggested Solution: Incorporate vocational information and career awareness at an early education level.

  • Rural youth have limited knowledge of the range of career paths available to them and they tend to narrow their ambitions to public sector jobs (such as: teacher, nurse, policeman, soldier)

Suggested Solution: Increase rural youth’s exposure to diverse career paths.

  • Many rural youth are discouraged by their own lack of self-confidence, and they are limited by their perceived incapacity and lack of potential.

Suggested Solution: Introduce, from an early age, programs that encourage the development of self-knowledge, self-esteem and potential, and an understanding of personality strengths and limits.

  • The application and registration fees for higher education and further training institutions are often prohibitive for poor students, thus deterring them from applying at all to these institutions.

Suggested Solution: Application and registration fees should either be means-related or payment requirements should be postponed pending finalisation of financial assistance. 

  • The National Benchmark Tests are offered in big towns and cities. This prevents many poor rural youth from easily accessing the testing facilities because the associated travel and accommodation costs are beyond their financial capacity.

Suggested Solution: National Benchmark Tests should be offered in smaller towns so that learners from rural areas can access them more easily and less expensively

Hamburg, Eastern Cape, South Africa

 (040) 678 1053

In Short

This learning brief shows how it is possible for a rural youth Centre to fill the career guidance void by providing free personalised counselling sessions to youth, and by helping them access the necessary resources to apply for jobs, higher education, and funding.

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