To the novice, there is a new player in youth development in Botswana’s education organisation sector.
However, to those who have been following the journey that Moitshepi Matsheng and Noam Angrist embarked on eight years ago, introduction of Youth Impact is the culmination of dedicated community service. Matsheng and Angrist originally founded and launched Young1ove as an intervention-driven organisation in 2014 specifically targeting the scourge of ‘Sugar Parents’ through empowering school-age teens and pre-teens in matters of bodily autonomy, consent and HIV/AIDS. Speaking back to what has characterised the venture thus far, Angrist – who initially came to Botswana as a Fulbright Scholar from the United Stated of America – hung on “resilience.” This resilience is evidenced in the attendees at the rebrand launch hosted at Two Six Seven Kitchen at Riverwalk in Gaborone.
Young1love has been implementing “teaching at the right level” as a method to further its programmatic goals. This method subverts the standard modus operandi where learning is delivered to scholars in a top-down flow of knowledge without taking scholars’ individual needs into consideration . Shortened to TARL, it engages multiple stakeholders to effectively meet the needs of the child, which Angrist aptly captured referencing the Setswana idiom, “Moroto wa o’ esi ga o ele,” to emphasise the need for collaborative efforts towards a single goal.
One of these important partners was the Embassy of the United States of America in Botswana that made a grant of USD 17,000 to Young1ove in the early days of the organisation. According to Amanda Jacobsen of the Embassy, this start led to partnering with the Ministry of Education on the DREAMS programme to pave the way towards positively impacting the lives of youth in Botswana. In her remarks at the launch, Sylvia Muzila paid homage to the growth that the organisation has marked up and the name that best encapsulates its vision and mission. Having been present at the formation of the organisation, Muzila applauded Matsheng and Angrist for showing “a great sense of clarity in their purpose. “Purpose without clarity leads to backsliding,” she noted.
Beyond purpose, Muzila added, vision, planning, passion, action-driven impact and character were present as important tenets of holistic community development work and have been features in the organisation’s programmatic growth with TARL. right on cue, one of the programme’s beneficiaries is a Standard 4 pupil of Bophirima Primary School named Atlang who took the captivated audience through a live multiplication demonstration. The animated pupil used call-and-response participatory engagements and comedic commentary as evidence of the modalities that teachers and facilitators are trained to employ when delivering the programme.
Through a partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sports and Culture, Youth Impact has been engaging Tirelo Sechaba Programme participants as facilitators. Speaking to the benefits she has witnessed in her personal growth, Boitumelo Phaladze praised the programme for “building my confidence” while also reinforcing that parents, guardians and teachers must know that “it is not a waste of time”. Lesego Masitara shared similar sentiments, saying “while primary schools were doing better than secondary schools, this programme came at the right time and has been a reminder that this methodology works for the recipients”. The child-friendly and scholar-centric approach has proven to be the salve to Botswana’s ailing education system that stands to benefit more because the work is far from over.
As part of the festivities, Mumcy served as the poetic opening act for Han C, who lent his voice to the organisation’s anthem called “Stand.” The Afro-pop song, which was released recently, proved a hit with the audience. Having been named the favourite artist by many involved in the project, Han C proved his relatability further before an audience of a broad age range that rose to their feet to do a jig as he performed some of his popular hits. With momentum on the up, Angrist declared that the goal is to see Youth Impact programming in all schools across Botswana by 2025. For her part, Matsheng stated: “The sustainability of the programme will be in entering partnerships just like the ones we have already, upskilling facilitators and nurturing the support we have and give to teachers as they are our main stakeholders.”