Over 110 business leaders and government jumped aboard a powerful career and life skills project today in a bid to tackle gender-based violence and unemployment. Decision makers from SA’s top brands pledged their commitment to ‘Men in the Making Day’ and invited grade 10-12 boy learners into their workplace for motivational talks, career guidance, team building and job shadowing, in a drive to provide much-needed mentorship and inspiration. The project reached over 1000 students this morning.
Now in its sixth year, Men in the Making Day has proven itself as a sustainable and highly supported initiative, with more than 6000 young boy learners who have passed through the programme. Most importantly, this year has seen the first round of graduates emerging from university. Leeto Thabana and William Sello, from Magaliesburg State School had joined the programme at its inception as grade 10 learners, when Tracker first launched the initiative in 2009 after gaining support and endorsement from the Department of Basic Education, and have now graduated from the University of Johannesburg in B.Com Accounting.
Thabana plans to remain a success story for other boys, "My short term goal is that this year I am doing my BCTA, a bridging certificate in the theory of accounting, hoping to get into CTA next year to qualify as a CA. I want to do a graduate programme at Deloitte or KPMG, after I graduate my Honours next year."
Another currently in the programme is Panyo Lesedi who is born and bred in Johannesburg. “My experience with the Men in the Making Campaign started in 2012. We got into it because we were looking for a day off school but it turned out to be such a beautiful initiative. They have supported us through Grade 11 and 12. We went to Metro FM, where they gave us work experience and taught us to seek to become leaders and men of substance in this country, and for that I want to thank them. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be at UJ studying in my second year.”
Dr. Shermain Mannah, The Director of Social Cohesion and Equity in Education explains, “This is a very significant programme for us. The Minister of Basic Education has been very clear in the past six years that men and boys are an extremely important stream for us to focus on. Yes, girls are still at risk, but we also need to address some of the significant challenges that face young men.”
“Our boys have been dropping out and there is a significant challenge around the retention of young men from Grade 9. It is programmes like this that ensures that 'school survival' of young boys is promoted so they can become successes in their own lives.”
Wayne de Nobrega, CEO of Tracker, who founded and manage the project, explains, “This initiative has grown from 35 to 140 companies and it’s phenomenal that we're having such a sustainable and material impact on individuals, showing them a different life, and one that makes a difference to South Africa. We look forward to seeing how this year’s intake enjoy the day and the impact it has upon them - we continue to be amazed by the growth and positive case studies from the year before."
Of the corporate participants, many of the country’s well-known names joined in - Shanduka, First Rand Group, BMW, Rand Merchant Bank, MTN Foundation, MiWay, Deloitte, and Hollard, among others. MiWay, as one example, mentored 8 students from Moletsane Secondary school in Soweto who spent time in various divisions within their business - such as marketing, actuarial, client services, IT and finance - to see how the organisation works, and access the motivation and inspiration to study further.