Solomon Mahlangu learners’ ‘blue print’ for change wins national prize

2016-06-09 06:00
=The Solomon Mahlangu Y-CAP team (from left) Spogter Lubabalo (team leader), Erasmus Sinokhanyo, Hlatshwayo Kamvalethu, Conini Aluncedo, Damoyi Siphosethu, Ntshiza Phelisa and social worker Olwen Carson. Photo: HEILIE COMBRINCK

=The Solomon Mahlangu Y-CAP team (from left) Spogter Lubabalo (team leader), Erasmus Sinokhanyo, Hlatshwayo Kamvalethu, Conini Aluncedo, Damoyi Siphosethu, Ntshiza Phelisa and social worker Olwen Carson. Photo: HEILIE COMBRINCK

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Solomon Mahlangu High School in KwaNobuhle is a school with learners dedicated to bring change.

Last year their project on “Late Coming” made national headlines, as their Y-CAP programme was announced the 2015 winner of the National Championships of the Youth Citizens Action Programme in the secondary school category.

“What is even more exceptional is that their project to tackle late coming at school was accepted as part of the values and civic engagement pillars within the Department of Basic Education at District, Provincial and National and level” said Olwen Carson, Social Worker at Solomon Mahlangu High School.

Mncedi Mtengwana, Principal of Solomon Mahlangu said, “I feel very proud of our learners. They have branded our school as a school for change, with their initiative on how to combat late-coming at school, being recognised on the highest levels. It is good to know that this initiative was also given the green light by Judge Edwin Cameron from the Constitutional Court, who was one of last year’s judges.”

The Eastern Cape is a “national disaster” in terms of poverty - as reported as far back as 2009 by the Human Science Research Council and the African Resource Cooperation - in their findings to the Department of Social Development but Solomon’s 2016 team has an innovative project to tackle this problem of poverty at their school.

“Our learners are impacted by high unemployment and the cancellation of Child Support Grant at 18 years of age, even though the child is still a learner. And there is abuse of grants by some parents,” said Mtengwana

“I feel positive regarding the Grade 10’s topic for this year. It is ‘Poverty in Education’ and I believe it will once again make a difference in the lives of learners in our school as well as other schools. It will help promote not only a healthy body, but also a healthy mind.”

Lubabalo Spogter, the Solomon Mahlangu leader of the 2016 Y-CAP team said, “We did extensive research and found that poverty is the most common factor that affects our school. With our project we aim to provide school uniforms to those who really can’t afford it. And, if funding permits, breakfast to those learners who come to school on an empty stomach.

“We would also like to enable their parents to develop an income through a co-operative being started as they can grow vegetables on a piece of land at our school. We want to get the message out that poverty is not the end of the world and that education is the key to success. I would wish other schools would make use of YCAP’s opportunity to change unhealthy conditions around them.”

Sinokhanyo Erasmus, one of the seven team members said, “Being part of this project makes me feel responsible to assist other learners at our school. It is not nice to see them with torn uniforms and know they come to school with empty stomachs.”

Phelisa Ntshiza said Solomon Mahlangu has 1 190 learners and 83% of the learners have child support grants. A total of 30% depend on the school’s nutrition plan.

“That means that they come to school hungry and the food they receive at school is the first meal they enjoy any day. Our break was moved an hour earlier for the learners to enjoy their meal and not lose concentration in class due to being hungry. Our statistics show that in many classes more than 50% of the learners’ parents are unemployed.”

The Solomon Mahlangu Y-CAP will tomorrow have the opportunity to present their project at the district round of the programme at the Department of Education District Office in Uitenhage. The provincial round will be on July 15 in East London, with the national round on July 23 in Pretoria.

Supporters thanked

Port Elizabeth’s Grey High School’s Community Service Club has got behind the Solomon team by raising funds to support their work in providing more school uniforms.

Levyvale SuperSpar, the Engen Cuyler Service Centre and Afri-Save have donated funds in support of the project.

  • If you would like to make a donation to this project please contact Olwen Carson on 082 8515 315 or email her to

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