My journey with Communiversity and Ikamva Labantu

Oct 18, 2023

Below is a story from Lihle Ndebele, an 18-year-old who was a top graduate transformed by Communiversity. Communiversity is a three-month, pre-college programme with campus and online classes, which young people (18-30 years) can attend to prepare them for tertiary education, and it provides support to students with college and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding applications. Ikamva Labantu houses the Aquarius Campus at its Kwakhanya Centre in Khayelitsha, which caters for 25 students at a time.

I’ve lived an ignorant life, never once taking it upon myself to plan for my future. From a young age, I’ve been called “lazy” and “unmotivated” by my parents, and my peers called me “spoilt”. I never really cared because I was quite happy in my lazy world. I had average grades at school and my teachers always said I could achieve a lot if only I studied, but why would I? I didn’t even know why I was there. As a result, I failed the test required to enter the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT) for my high school academics. I was forced to go to a high school I looked down on, and that was an eye opener for me.

I had expected to thrive in high school, now having had a paradigm shift, but I was soon to learn that old habits die hard. I found it difficult to understand the teachers and often got in trouble because of not meeting deadlines. I tried to regain the foundation I lost at primary school and in turn got left behind in class. I inevitably began being lazy again, but never once lost interest in learning.

Despite my newfound enthusiasm, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I prioritised getting a girlfriend over planning for my future, and as a result impregnated her. Luckily, I had graduated Matric with reasonably good grades. I was about to give in and start working, without a plan, when I heard about Communiversity from a friend who had recently applied.

It was at Communiversity that my life truly began. For the first time I had found a place I could call a second home; where I felt welcomed by the staff to be myself and there were others just like me. The lecturers were patient and understanding; never once hesitating to go the extra mile so that a student fully understood the concepts. They made me feel welcome to ask questions no matter how ridiculous they seemed. As a result, a newfound love for studying was born within me. Thanks to career guidance and the ‘Yes to Success’ programme, I managed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and have begun paving the way for my future ambitions. Thanks to Economics by Wilco and the ‘Worth Wealthy Me’ course, I learnt various methods of how to manage money wisely and I’m now confident I can build a great future for all those who rely on me. It has also opened my eyes to the realities of the current economic crisis we are facing as a country – “Ignorance is bliss until some wise guy teaches you economics”.

Debating by Nolitha was a subject that forced me to question many things; from widely held beliefs, to my own, and in turn taught me how to constructively argue with others. It also taught me how to be mentally flexible; willing to debate for an argument I didn’t agree with.

Engineering Sciences with Mr Meyer was crucial for motivation as he never failed to remind us how much we’re capable of, teaching us not only Science but also to be morally upright people. He asked us many tricky questions which forced us to develop a different perspective when faced with a situation: “It’s not what you think, it’s how you think”. This came in handy in Mathematical Literacy taught by Latisha, whose vast knowledge of Mathematics and teaching experience truly showed in class.

English with David – at the end of each sentence he spoke, I had either learned a new word or a new concept. The way Mr Yutar speaks inspired me to learn more about the English language and better my communication skills. In fact, he was so good that most of the time I forgot to give feedback and remained silent: “When knowledge speaks, wisdom listens”.

The trickiest subject for me was Computer Literacy with Wade, another custodian of knowledge, but never once did I lose interest. Perhaps it was because Wade felt like the most relatable lecturer. Another programme that I was introduced to, that I relished above all else, was Transcendental Meditation. I had never imagined what a couple of minutes a day with myself could do for my life. I feel more in control of my life than ever before.

Communiversity along with the staff from Ikamva Labantu have transformed me into a better human being, and I can’t help but recommend it to everyone else. It teaches information relevant to the real world. Everyone is welcomed, and there’s no prejudice. We are all equal; no voice is above another. The teachers are experienced and know how to teach, in fact they are excited to teach. Communiversity also instills principles that are instrumental in life, like meeting deadlines. If it helped me get direction for my life; it can help someone else as well. I’ll be studying Business Management next year at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and within 20 years, I’ll be one of the wealthiest people alive.