1 December 2013
WORLD AIDS DAY: SOUTH AFRICAN EDUCATION CHARITY TACKLING HIV WINS UK AWARD
On World AIDS Day, the Stars Foundation is delighted to announce IkamvaYouth as 2013 Impact Award Winner for Education in Africa-Middle East. The remaining Impact Award Winners will be announced in the first week of December.
More people are affected by HIV/AIDs in South Africa than any other country in the world. UN figures reveal almost 6 million people are infected in South Africa – with three quarters of all new HIV-infections occurring amongst 15-25 year olds.
IkamvaYouth has identified a shocking trend in which ‘most children enter the education system HIV-negative; a growing number leave school HIV-positive, and many more become HIV-positive shortly after leaving. Dealing with this problem of HIV is a one of the priorities of IkamvaYouth. HIV directly affects all aspects of individual’s life, including their education.’
IkamvaYouth’s HIV programme tackles HIV and AIDS in poor townships through awareness sessions, testing and counselling – enabling young people to take responsibility for their own health and protection. If HIV-positive, they learn how to manage the disease; if HIV-negative, they learn how to protect themselves from future HIV infection.
Confronting the epidemic prevalence of HIV and AIDS amongst the country’s young people, IkamvaYouth also addresses the challenges of urban poverty and inequality perpetuated by South Africa's education crisis. Started by two young researchers in 2003, IkamvaYouth has evolved into a countrywide network, drawing on local university students, volunteers and IkamvaYouth alumni acting as educators, mentors and role models.
Endorsed by Stellenbosch University, the organisation provides tutoring in academic subjects and life skills to empower disadvantaged youth to escape poverty and create fulfilling futures. “We have been inspired to dream big, to rise above our situations and inspire others,” said one student.
This is particularly significant given that 1.3 million learners start school each year in South Africa but less than half reach matriculation (high school graduation). And yet, regardless of HIV status, IkamvaYouth matriculation results have far-exceeded national averages since 2005.
Last year, volunteers provided the equivalent of more than three million rand in HIV awareness programming, tutoring, career guidance mentoring, computer literacy training and workshop facilitation to over 700 young people. But while remarkable progress has been made, significant challenges remain.
IkamvaYouth now aims to enhance and expand services to more townships across South Africa. Provisional plans include identifying more organisations to replicate the Ikamva model, setting up programmes in rural areas and targeting children of primary school age.