Social Work lecturer Dr Thembelihle Makhanya has been appointed the chairperson of Imbewu Youth Empowerment Centre (IYE) based in Ugu district, Ray Nkonyeni Municipality. The non-governmental organisation (NGO) focuses on psychosocial issues facing young people in rural communities. Its committee members and volunteers are students and graduates from KwaZulu-Natal Higher Education Institutions.
Makhanya also launched the first programme called uMhlahlandlela ‘that focusses on matric learners’ orientation regarding higher education access and requirements. It also assists learners with university applications using the CAO system, funding applications and other online application platforms.’
Together with the NGO team, she assisted learners at Makhanda High School with applications for higher education.
Makhanya’s involvement in the NGO and her accepting to lead and chair its programmes emanated from her PhD study that explored students’ experiences of (de) coloniality in higher education based on the Social Work programme at a South African University in KwaZulu-Natal.
The study found that most African students from disadvantaged rural schools entered university unprepared for the new life and academic experiences, leading to a struggle to cope.
‘Language, Information Technology and the struggle to apply for higher education were highlighted by participants as some of the issues that hinder access to Higher Education Institutions. This suggested a need for support structures that bridge the gap between schools and these institutions in the province,’ she said.
Makhanya plans to continue to uplift learners in rural areas through applications to universities.