Let’s stand together

Jerome Michaels with wife Natasha and son Cameron at his graduation.

Jerome Michaels, Rocklands

June 16 1976 symbolises the liberation struggle of all youth across South Africa, the struggle against Bantu education and other initiatives introduced by the apartheid government.

It was an oppressive movement that formulated education in a way of aligning non-whites with just enough education to be employable.

Tomorrow we celebrate June 16 in remem-brance of the youth who stood up against the oppression of the past.

We celebrate our freedom and realise the opportunity of free education for all, irrespective of race or gender.

As we reflect on the past, we realise that our future is truly dictated by our past.

Many people till today are still affected by the whiplash of apartheid and still have excuses as to why they can’t progress in life. It’s sad but a reality.

However, in saying that, the basis of this piece is not to reflect on the past but to rather provide solutions that can shape our future, help build a better South Africa and with God’s help, flip the world upside down.

Education is vital in shaping character, is key to produce a prosperous nation and important to address the issues we face.

We know that the youth are moved by physical things and they’re attracted by things that bring excitement.

As we are faced with all these problems, coming up with solutions becomes quite tricky.

Fortunately, we have the Mitchell’s Plain Role Model and Bursary Trust that aligns disadvantaged students with opportunities to rise above the norm with provision of further education.

The programme is set to raise the bar as we know that many of our youth fall short even before they reach matric.

The main reasons for drop-outs are caused by exposure to substances abuse, recruitment into gangs and teenage pregnancy.

As we are faced with these challenges, we know it’s the core responsibility of our community to participate in initiatives such as the trust to provide support when the call may arise.

On the issue of how to keep the youth excited over education, I believe that technology is the key and that we need business and communities to invest in programmes that will make education more exciting. There are many cloud computing systems that will make homework and daily tasks more easy to complete, programs that stretch via all platforms and devices, some I have created and have helped me in the past.

I urge our community leaders to pledge their commitment to help the community raise the bar and help shape our country. We need businesses to come to the party, business owners to share innovative ideas with students to help them start businesses and provide guidance for entrepreneurs.

This will help with our current unemployment rate and increase our GDP that will lead to positive growth in our economy. Religious groups should become more active with outreach programmes that will help transform mindsets, that will reach informal settlements and help people find jobs and move out of these infected areas.

In closing I would just like to add I left school in Grade 10 due to gangsterism and drug abuse. At the age of 13, I was already part of a gang but fortunately at the age of 19, I became converted. I managed to complete my matric at night school in 2009 and graduated this year in banking and financial service. In 2005 I completed a certificate in information technology.

My past has not dictated my future – I had very little opportunity in life but I realised that what I had in life was more than enough to achieve greatness.

Today, I am employed as a regional manager at Credit Rescue and have over 300 people who report to me daily. I train people three times a week and contribute to the economy by providing jobs and solutions for people in debt.

I am saying this only as a reflection that if we put our mind towards something we can achieve it. It’s for this reason I have been involved in many programmes to help the youth. Programmes I have been involved with include the Department of Correctional Service programmes to help transform the mindsets of offenders, which was really a great opportunity to change one’s outlook on life.

My call is for all our people to unite and stand by each other and provide help when it’s needed. The challenges that are there affect us all as this is our future. I have an online form that I would like people to complete to provide ideas and solutions to help shape our country. So please take only five minutes of your time to complete and help us help others – thanks. The link is https://form.myjotform.com/ 61622165188558.