Transitioning from basic education to higher education is a daunting process that requires full support from family and community guardians like Thobile Khambule.
The transitioning process has many components that can be discouraging to students. The components include finding a college or university, applying for the correct subject according to your career choice, and then there is this big elephant in the room called NSFAS, which you need to apply for. The NSFAS application is very complicated. Higher education institution application processes are also complicated, and customer service doesn’t exist.
Students must have access to the appropriate gadgets to apply, a stable network connection, and enough data.
Now, for millions of students in townships and rural areas, this transitioning process has become mission impossible. They cannot get any support from the family because no one in the family understands the process. Some families are poor, so worrying about NSFAS, college, or university is not on their radar. Survival is the most important thing. Such students end up getting casual jobs and are stuck in that space for the rest of their lives. At least they are stuck in a job; other students end up in the unemployment queues for R350.
Teekay Your Career Guide, an organization founded by Thobile Khambule, provides a platform for students to help them with the transition process and avoid falling through the cracks.
“I started to assist matriculated learners from my community in January 2019. They needed help with tertiary applications, and so I availed myself. In the beginning, there was only one learner who needed this help. Eventually, word of mouth spread, and then more learners came through. This is when I established TeeKay Your Career Guide.”
Her services became very popular in her neighborhood, which led Thobile to dig some more to find out why there was so much need. “I noticed that learners who completed basic education were not transitioning to higher education. I then did my research and found that they lacked important information about how to do applications correctly.”
“Most learners don’t believe in their dreams, and some are not even sure what they would like to study further, so they need to be encouraged to have dreams and to fight for them. A learner with a dream has that inner drive that’s encouraging them to work hard every day, no matter what their home circumstances are.”
“The learners are not well equipped with important gadgets such as phones and laptops to apply, and those who have them simply play games, music, and social media. Sadly, some students miss all the information because they do not have phones. Some face network coverage issues and load-shedding. Other students have the correct gadgets but do not research career paths. Learners must know their interests and abilities from a very young age so that when they reach high school, they will know exactly what that career path entails.
Learners come to us desperate to get into a university, but behind that desperation to enter a university is the “status” of being in a university. When we ask them which course to choose, they say any course that their matriculation results qualify them to study. There is a lot that needs to be done to help students reach their dreams.
Thobile is currently working with 20 schools in rural and township areas, and with more than 500 students, she has helped them transition from basic to higher education. Students who use her services do not have to worry about accommodation, as she also takes care of accommodation. All they do is show up at a university to resume their career pursuit.
“Teekay Your Career Guide is currently operating in the Harry Gwala district but can travel everywhere in KZN to assist learners in person or online if they so wish. We are available on all social media platforms for learners who may need our help.”
Thobile urges both the Department of Higher Education as well as the Department of Basic Education to make intentional efforts to make information available to learners on an ongoing basis.
“The Department of Education must play a role in providing the learners with relevant information at an early stage. Career guidance is essential; some learners do not even know what they will do after matriculation. So, the Department of Education and schools must provide interesting activities like Career Day, where learners act as professionals according to their career choices. We have seen some schools do such activities, but I believe it is not enough. Invites companies like Teekay Your Career Guide to teach learners about career choices.”
Thobile also had a word for parents:
“I encourage the parents to be involved in the children’s lives; they must avoid the temptation to choose careers. Help your child plan for post-matric as early as the beginning of their matric year.”
Learners who need Teekay services can contact us.