Lwazi Nxumalo has worked hard to attain his dream of becoming a chartered accountant, and is now using this passion to help other youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their goals of a better life.
Nxumalo, who is in his third year of articles at accounting firm BDO Cape Town, is a voluntary tutor for Fun Learning for Youth(FLY) which tutors maths to high school students from the Cape Town townships of Gugulethu, Langa and Khayelitsha.“There are about 50 of us in total who have committed our Saturday’s to tutoring these students and we meet at the JL Zwane community centre in Gugulethu.”
“FLY was started in 2010, by a group of like-minded UCT alumni who had identified challenges and gaps that they had personally faced as high school learners - and wished to change for the upcoming learners behind them,” explains Nxumalo. “They noticed that maths outcomes in the South African education system were well below international standards, with performance in township schools being particularly poor. This needed to be addressed, as this was one of the reasons why universities were struggling with transformation, as kids from previously disadvantaged backgrounds often lacked proper and fundamental maths knowledge and application skills key for them to do well.”
FLY believes that it is only through education that South Africa can unlock its true potential. Many of the founding members of FLY themselves grew up in poverty-stricken areas. FLY provides lunch packs to its students following their weekly mathematics tutoring lessons. Given the socio-economic issues faced by learners, FLY also provides life skills lessons once a month to kids on the program. FLY aims to nurture well-rounded students who can face life's challenges. Students are encouraged to set goals and dream big.
"We obtain the students school academic results and work to see where the kids are going wrong and help them address those issues at an earlier stage. We also provide them with career guidance and a life skills program that will help enable the kids to ignite a work ethic in them that will ensure they meet whatever goals they wish to achieve and overcome any obstacle they may encounter on their journey to success,” says Nxumalo. “We have seen improvements in the kids progress over the past few years, and have witnessed kids that would not have made it to varsity had it not been for our intervention excel at mathematics."
The FLY program is focused on ensuring learners remain within the school system beyond the compulsory age, elect pure mathematics over mathematics literacy in grade 10, and then excel at mathematics, obtaining a bachelor pass in grade 12, attend a tertiary institution and ultimately qualifying as a professional.
Nxumalo, who from next year will be a fully fledged Chartered Accountant for BDO Cape Town, says that he chose to be part of the program due to the opportunity it presented for him to give back to society and help other children, who may be disadvantaged due to their socio economic backgrounds, achieve their dreams as he has been able to achieve his.
“I remember when I was in high school my dad was talking to a friend about the first black CEO of Telkom who was one of the first 10 black chartered accountants in South Africa and had a seriously impressive work history. After hearing my father speak about this person with so much pride and admiration, I told myself I wanted to be like this him one day so that my dad would be able to speak about me with such pride.” As a young man juggling the demand of work, his own personal life, and his voluntary work Nxumalo still finds time for his hobbies and interests which include cooking and exercise.
“I am driven by my goals to reach my full potential and not accomplishing those that I have set for myself is not an option. I want to be a role model and mentor to other youngsters out there, who may come from a similar or more challenging backgrounds to my own, to see that in life the obstacles you face are not a dead end but rather a test of courage and determination.”