Brenda Mlambo is a 34-year-old activist who lives in Matsotsosela Village, which is under Chief Dzumeri, in Limpopo. Brenda completed her schooling in Pretoria and her tertiary studies through UNISA. Following the completion of her own studies, she noticed that there was very little career guidance counselling for school learners. ”I was flabbergasted by the situation back home as far as education is concerned” explains Brenda.
Brenda was concerned that many learners went from grade one to grade twelve without knowing their career path once they finished school. “They pass with flying colours in matric but still fail to go to university because they don’t know the relationship of their subjects with their intended tertiary studies. In some cases, you find that their school and tertiary study courses don’t even correspond, and this might even result in omission from university.” Brenda says that this is unlike in urban areas where universities often send teams to various schools, sometimes as early as grade eight, to assist students with their career choice. She says that some students were failing to register at universities due to lack of information.
Brenda took it upon herself to begin a campaign of helping learners to apply and pursue tertiary studies, starting with grade eight learners. Learners come to her with their final report, and she checks the subjects the learner has passed well in and suggests tertiary studies that are suitable for them to pursue. Brenda also assists with bursary applications and, if needs be, advises on opportunities for postgraduates.
Brenda has a Facebook and WhatsApp account which she uses to engage learners when assisting them with their academic struggles and says that both platforms have been effective so far. Since she started, Brenda has assisted more than 50 learners. She also visits schools to give talks to encourage the learners.
Since she is unemployed, Brenda says she is experiencing some challenges with her campaign. Some of the schools is located far from where she stays so she finds it hard to move around to do what she enjoys most doing. Buying enough data is another obstacle which hinders her project. Brenda says government is doing little to help the youth and encourages learners to form their own groups to assist each other. She says it is easier to assist students when they are already in self organised groups. ”If I help one student, you must be able to help three other students for us to conquer” adds Brenda.