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Igniting the flame for aspiring accountants

Learners who have successfully completed the Fasset-funded Ithemba
programme have been thoroughly prepared for the workplace.

The programme which culminates in an AAT NQF 4 Financial qualification and
provides work-readiness skills, business skills and IT skills has proved a resounding
success achieving a pass rate of approximately 90%.

Youth unemployment is a topic, which resonates with OBE, CEO of AAT, Jane
Scott Paul.

The official unemployment rate among young Britons is close to one million.
During her recent visit to South Africa, Jane Scott Paul attended a networking
breakfast, at Mosaiek Church, in Fairlands, Johannesburg, where she had an
opportunity to meet learners on the Fasset-funded Ithemba Programme, and the SandT
School of Accounting team and the Future Creation team, who have delivered the
programme.

Scott Paul told learners to "give themselves a round of applause' as they had
achieved a pass rate of around 90%, much higher than the national pass rate at NQF
level 4 of around 50%.

"You have just about doubled the national expectations. We like that. This is
fantastic,' Scott Paul explained.

She cited the project?s holistic approach as one of its greatest strengths: "The
Ithemba Project has been a resounding success because it recognises that it is not
simply a matter of a qualification that is important, it is about ensuring that young
people understand that becoming employed and being a good employee and being
able to reach their aspirations involves a lot of other aspects of learning and
developing themselves.

The programme is very holistic in bringing together all of those different facets of
employability and empowering the young people to really take control of their own
futures. It is a remarkable programme.'

The learners? journey has also impressed: "I have been impressed by the way in
which learners? eyes have been opened, and the way in which they see themselves
as being able to fulfil their ambitions.

They recognise that they have to work. It is not going to be an easy ride. They
are not going to be handed opportunities on a plate. They have to take grasp of
their own future. What we are seeing is raw talent being harnessed and developed.

This is tremendous. You see young people with enthusiasm, courage and
commitment. What makes me very happy is because of a project like Ithemba, these
people are not being cast aside. It is not talent that is being wasted. South Africa
has a huge pool of talent. We just have to find ways of harnessing it and getting
those people out to work for the country.'

People in first world countries do not realise how fortunate they are: "When you
see the challenges that young people in South Africa face in their day-to-day lives,
with their living conditions, they have difficulty in finding employment, they have
difficulty in making a living, and the problems with education, access to education,
access to further education, we do not realise that we have a great deal that is
handed to us, which we take for granted, and do not value as we should.

It is always very humbling coming here and seeing just how people struggle with
all their difficulties and still come out smiling and laughing and joking.'

The highlight of the morning was the hand-over of a lightweight, foldable,
wheelchair, by S and T School of Accounting Programme Director, Cecilia Thomas, and
Future Creation, to Matswake Sylvester. Much to everyone?s delight, Sylvester tried
out her new wheel chair and even did a few "wheelies.'

After matriculating from Helen Franz School for the Physically Disabled at Borkum
Farm, in Bochum, Limpopo, Sylvester completed a Diploma in HR, but was unable to
find employment. She heard about the programme on Thobela FM and applied: "I did
Accounting in Matric.

I have always been good at numbers, so I decided to start afresh.' She hopes to
continue with her studies and plans to complete the next level of the AAT
qualification.

Sylvester urges young South Africans to never give up: "If you work with people
then you will achieve your dreams step-by-step. You must never by shy about
starting small; huge things do not start off as huge.'

When the project was launched in March 2012, the launch was preceded by a
special service, broadly themed: "Ignite your potential,' in the Klipkerk Lectio Divina.

It was fitting therefore, that the graduation ceremony too was preceded by a
special service, where learners celebrated learning and a life to come, lighting
candles to symbolize igniting the potential in their lives.
Prizes were awarded to the top three academic candidates: Paul Mgota, Candice
Taylor and Letsota Ntalenyane.

Twenty-one year old Mgota, who hails from Limpopo, has always been a top
achiever. After matriculating with a distinction in Accounting, he completed a
Certificate in Management through Tshwane University of Technology, followed by a
National Diploma in Accounting through University of Johannesburg.

An all-rounder, he has also obtained South African colours for karate. He applies
the discipline karate demands to every area in his life. "To young people out there,
like myself, whatever you are doing, take the opportunity seriously. Focus and have
self-confidence. From there you will achieve great things,' he advises.

Mgota has already enrolled to complete his B Com next year.
Taylor, aged 19 years hails from Ladsymith in KwaZulu-Natal. After completing the
first year of her B Com through Wits in 2011, she was undecided as to whether she
really wanted to pursue a career in Accounting.

Her aunt told her about the Ithemba Programme: "I applied and became one of
the family. The environment has helped me a lot. It is close-knit. It opened my eyes.
I enjoyed the course. The work was difficult, but we all got through.

We helped one another. It was that kind of environment that helped us get
through the programme. It really ignited the flame that I have, the love I have for
accounting. I have decided to go back and study next year. I will finish my B Com
through UCT.'

She attributes her success to her family, who have stood by her every step of
the way. "I know they are praying for me at home. They just want me to succeed.
The family connection keeps you strong. You know you have that goal to get to and
you go for it.'

After matriculating, twenty-three year old Ntalenyane, who hails from Kagiso in
Krugersdorp, enrolled for a B Com Accounting through the University of
Johannesburg. Unfortunately, due to financial pressures he was forced to abandon
his studies in his third year.

He saw an advert in the newspaper for the Ithemba Programme and applied: "It
was a good opportunity for me. I met a lot of people on the programme. I learnt a lot
about myself, who I am, and my character. I got to see who I am and work on this.

I learnt a lot about Accounting, Tax, Costing and Cash Management. These are
stepping stones to what I want to do in life. My future dream is to become a CA.
AAT will be a stepping stone to help me to achieve what I want. I have registered
with Unisa for next year and hope to complete my degree. I will then do my Honours
and see what happens.'

Ntalenyane attributes his success to his mother: "She has been the stronghold of
our family.

She does not work, but makes sure whatever we want in life we have. She told
that whatever you want in life you must work for, irrespective of your
circumstances, or where you come from. Where you come from does not determine
where you will end up.

It will make you stronger in life and a better person, if you have a strong mind
and focus on what you want in life.'

Ithemba graduates are work-ready, competent and employable. Learners have an
AAT NQF 4 Financial Qualification, work-readiness skills, life skills, business skills and
IT skills. There is no placement fee. If you are interested in recruiting a learner from
the programme please contact [email protected], or on 011 673 9295.

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