By Tevin Andrews (ORT SA intern)

At the dawn of our democracy, South Africa became a country of possibility for all of its inhabitants. We were ushered into a rainbow nation that promised us that the injustices and atrocities of governments’ past and our collective history would never be repeated. The pillar of every country and the backbone of its progress lie in every individual making the decision to be better and do better every single day and to serve and to help. One of the most important considerations that we can make in this regard is that serving and helping those that cannot help themselves, those less fortunate than ourselves or just merely reaching out and assisting where nothing is expected in return. This is the beginning of the internal change that we all need within ourselves to be compassionate not for the sake of recognition but for the cause; and that is exactly what the principles of Ubuntu are all about.  These are the values that are at the heart and core of ORT South Africa and they echo those that were championed by former South African president Nelson Mandela.

There are very few organisations that are able to combat the problems we face in our community at all levels, demographics and all walks of life but ORT South Africa manages to do this this seamlessly and maintains a positive track record with growth all round both internally within the organisation as well as externally with regards to the beneficiaries and the constituencies it serves throughout the world. It goes without saying that we are very lucky and privileged to have our very own ORT operating in Southern Africa. ORT South Africa consists of three academies namely ORT SA IT Academy, ORT Skills and Enterprise Development Academy and the ORT SA STEM Academy.

From second chance programmes that give matriculated youths the opportunity to redo their Maths and Science to Robotics programmes aimed at 9 to 11 year olds and the very successful Coding Clubs that the organisation provides at disadvantaged schools.  The importance of all these programmes are in the platforms they create for the improvement of the youth from diverse backgrounds.

Take for example ORT SA’s Second Chance programme, which levels the playing field and gives young students a better chance at getting into better tertiary level courses and ultimately better careers and a better life. 80% of the students are either at university, in jobs or learnerships! These benefits have an overall positive ripple effect on the community at large and we are all the better for it.

The current youth unemployment rate in SA is at an all-time high of 36%. ORT SA continues to be a solution in such trying times with mentorship programmes that are provided throughout the year and workshops. ORT SA provides educational programmes in the IT space that aim to provide young people with essential computer knowledge and bridging courses, providing scarce skills and pioneering ICT progress in our country. Some students even go on and pay it forward in their communities.

Business mentoring and training is another key area that ORT SA focuses on. ORT SA has been involved with some influential names as well including Adrian Gore who founded Discovery in 1992, who provided some mentorship under one of ORT SAs many mentorship and skills training programmes.

Organisations such as these are the little pockets of hope and the success stories that are the very underpinning of the Rainbow Nation that is South Africa and ORT SA still has some more amazing work to do and champion the change we want to see in the world.

From here on, it can only be onwards and upwards!