Valued Citizens Initiative equips learners with life skills in 12 public high schools through 3 different programmes. The focus is on instilling in learners a sense of self-discipline, determination and courage when tackling, what might seem to them, insurmountable challenges.

Informed by the National Development Plan, these programmes are fulfilling the need to develop entrepreneurs and bridging the skills gap. Valued Citizens Initiative together with its partners, celebrated the achievements of 212 Grade 12 learners in a Certification Ceremony held on the 11th of October at the Ferndale Recreation Centre in Randburg, Johannesburg.

Our Bridging for Life programme, endorsed by the Department of Higher Education and Training, is a joint venture between Valued Citizens Initiative (a non-governmental organisation that provides educational and social justice support programmes), Alcatel-Lucent (a global telecommunications corporation) and Bridgestone (one of the largest manufacturers of tyres). Following on the success of our first beneficiaries of Bridging for Life in 2010/2011 (with 85.89% pass rate amongst Bridging for Life learners) 74.35% of learners that participated in the 2012/2013 programme qualified to enroll at University, and 30,12% achieved distinctions in certain subjects. These distinctions were achieved in Life Orientation, Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Life Sciences. We believe in our current grade 12 learners (124 learners) from Mamolemane (Ga-Moledji), Eqinisweni (Ivory Park) and Nkhobiso (Qwa-Qwa) whom we will continue to motivate to achieve excellence.

Our iNSPIRE programme supported by Renault, our Founding Partner (French automobile manufacturer), focused on the Girl Child from Grade 9 to Grade 12 in 8 high schools throughout the Gauteng North District. This programme developed our young girls as servant leaders and as our Ambassador, Brand Pretorius said: “This programme is about healing the emotional wounds of our girl learners, providing them with the tools to live their personal core values and stand as leaders to address gender inequalities in schools as far as poverty, abuse and vulnerability is concerned”.

Our Siyakhula programme addresses life skills over a four year period of focused intervention with 40 girl learners from Grade 9 to 12. This was made possible through the dedication of Strate (Authorised Central Securities Depository). As Nonhlanhla Mtayisi eloquently put it; “Personally the Siyakhula Programme has been a journey full of experiences and self-discovery. The topics that we touched really gave me the insight into life in general.” Lerato Manana also shared her experience, saying, “I have learnt that I should not concentrate on what others fear but to stand my ground and feel free to express myself in an appropriate manner. I am able to face my fears, which I believe will enable me to progress in life and achieve my goals.” The extra classes in Mathematics, Physical Science and Accounting offered by former Bridging for Life students willing to give back to Valued Citizens, enabled the academic progress of 16 girl learners who achieved an average aggregates of 50% in their first trimester. The efforts of these former Bridging for Life students assisted a further 32 learners in improving their marks to above 50% and 8 learners receiving distinctions in the fourth trimester during 2012. The excellence of our programme, as reflected in the improved performance of our beneficiaries from Zitikeni High School (Tembisa), are closely followed by the Gauteng Department of Education.