Glittering future awaits

Students with their teachers at the Kimberley International Diamond and Jewellery Academy. From the left are Elmarie Mostert (teacher), Steyn Koroje, Mania Kadzumba (both students) and Tshidi Tau (facilitator). Photo: Boipelo Mere
Students with their teachers at the Kimberley International Diamond and Jewellery Academy. From the left are Elmarie Mostert (teacher), Steyn Koroje, Mania Kadzumba (both students) and Tshidi Tau (facilitator). Photo: Boipelo Mere

After braving several hardships, students from Platfontein are about to complete their Diamond Cutting and Polishing training course at the Kimberley International Diamond and Jewellery Academy (Kidja) in June.

“Now I can say that I know a diamond thoroughly – what it looks like, where it comes from and how to handle it,” said proud and confident student Mania Kadzumba (24).

“I am willing to educate my peers back home never to let fear prevent you from trying out new things.

There are always challenges along the way, but one needs to pull up your socks and soldier on.”

Kadzumba, Steyn Koroje and Peterson Ndumba were the three matriculants from Platfontein who qualified through a Kidja bursary to participate in the programme. They set an example to their peers that there is indeed hope after matric.

Kadzumba was on the verge of dropping out of the course when she started three years ago, due to her lack of confidence to attend classes presented in English.

On the first day of training, she wanted to take her bag, leave the class and go back home to look after her mother and baby.

The unemployed youth, who matriculated in 2014, said she already saw herself as a failure, as she could not understand English well.

She said her biggest fear was the thought of being taught in English and not in Afrikaans, like she was used to being taught.

According to her, this is one of the greatest fears in her community.

“I was crying like a baby and wanted to drop out. My facilitator, Tshidi Tau, had to intervene and arrange for an interpreter to assist us for the first part of the course.

“My former school teacher and mentor, Elmarie Mostert, was also asked to talk me out of dropping the course, since I saw it as a waste of time that lecturers would be presenting the course while I had no clue of what they were saying.”

Kadzumba is proud to have reconsidered her decision, as she is about to finish her third year in June.

Mostert, who was the one to encourage the three to enter the course, was close to tears upon realisation that they were nearing the end of their course.

According to her, a teacher at the !Xhunkhwesa Intermediate School, she was having sleepless nights due to the high rate of matriculants who just sit at home after they had matriculated.

“At least now another initiative was introduced to the youth, which they can grab with both hands,” Mostert said.

Her actions resulted in an interpreter being allocated for them, as it became clear that the other two students were facing similar challenges, but could not speak up.

“From then onwards, the sky was the limit, as we could be independent,” Kadzumba said.

According to her, she had dropped out of her Office Administration course at the Further Education and Training (FET) College in the year she joined Kidja, due to the same language challenge.

Another reason she managed to be successful in her current course, is that the majority of the modules comprised of practical training, rather than theory.

Fellow student Koroje (28) envisages a future as a diamond trader, as he knows exactly how to value these jewels.

“Everything was new to me, including the environment I lived in when I came to Kimberley, and especially the English language,” Koroje said.

He is willing to encourage his peers to follow the course and motivate them to apply for trading licences, servicing other communities as well.

Tau said the three-year journey with these students was a learning curve for her, although she had been a trainer before. She said her best move was to place them among the other students in order for them to learn to communicate comfortably to minimise the language barrier issues.

“According to them, they thought the learning modules would be in Afrikaans, but at the end of the modules they were on board and understood everything,” Tau said.

She said the academy was in the process of applying for the three to come back for another 18 months, on an internship programme, to learn more about the diamond trade.

“We have faith in them and believe they are now ready for the job market. If they can start a job they will be capable, and only need the introduction of the company.”

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