A graduation ceremony was held by SHAWCO (Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation) over the weekend to recognise learners who have completed the Saturday School Programme, and to award prizes to the top achievers.
The ceremony, which also acknowledged SHAWCO’s educators and donors, was attended by the Provincial Minister of Education Debbie Schafer, as well as Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.
SHAWCO’s Saturday School Programme is an educational intervention that engages with more than 200 grade 12 learners from 42 schools in Cape Town’s disadvantaged communities. The programme provides learners with opportunities to improve their academic skills in preparation for tertiary studies, and to develop confidence in their own abilities.
SHAWCO started the programme at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2008 to give learners access to facilities and resources that are not available at their own schools. A key factor in the programmeʼs success is that the learners are transported to the university for the extra lessons, which allows them to experience campus life.
Speaking to the learners, Zille stressed the importance of education in the growth and success of South Africa.
“Education will remain the top priority because it is the door that opens all others,” she said.
“All that government can do is try to secure the best opportunities for you … All of you here have been given help and opportunities to open the next door in your life, but you have to open it.”
She listed four requirements for a successful life: telling the truth, taking responsibility, learning to defer gratification, and being courageous.
Schafer emphasised the relationship between work and success.
“There is only one place where success comes before work – in the dictionary,” she said.
She told the learners that their current circumstances do not define their future – unless they let them.
“[In] government it is our role to provide opportunities, but people also need to take those opportunities.”
She also reminded the learners that perseverance pays off.
“Winners never quit and quitters never win.”