In early 2006, after matriculating with a couple of distinctions from Kgola-Thuto Secondary School in QwaQwa, Free State, Molefi Nyofane arrived at Wits University, excited about pursuing a degree in law.
However, it was not to be. Nyofane was told that he did not meet the minimum requirements, because his English mark was below 60%. Instead of going home, Nyofane enrolled for a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Johannesburg. Although he eventually fell in love with and began pursuing studies in information management, this incident led him to ask himself how many other young people were pursuing careers they were not really passionate about.
“I felt one of the contributing factors to the high unemployment rate was that young people were pursuing wrong career paths,” he explains. “I thought I could contribute by advising them, and by making resources available for them to pursue the right career paths for them.”
So in 2008, Nyofane initiated the Macro Informative Youth Agency (Miya), with the aim of bridging the gap between rural communities and institutions of higher learning, and roped some of his friends in. Miya’s key function is to convey information about graduate and postgraduate studies to young people in rural areas, through career coaching and guidance, motivational events and career expos.
Since its inception, the agency has reached more than 5 000 people through these programmes, and has placed around 70 learners per year into various universities and colleges across the country. Currently eight young men and women are studying abroad in Cuba, China and Russia, thanks to its efforts.
Someday Nyofane would like the agency to be in the financial position to assist students with bursaries, but for now, he connects students with organisations that provide funding. Students are also assisted with the often cumbersome task of applying for their chosen fields of study. Nyofane and his friends also fund a go-to resource centre for learners — run by two staff members, supported by four office bearers and fifteen volunteers — from their own pockets.
“An educated society cannot be poor; it cannot be without light,” he says. “It doesn’t matter where a person was born, rural or urban community, how they grew up also doesn’t make any difference; if they are enlightened and learned, they will become people of value to themselves and to society.” — Fatima Asmal