Image source: EFFSC CPUT District Six. First graduates of the Uphephela Learner’s License program out of a registered class of 300 participants.
Initiated by the EFFSC, the program was born out of the need to increase the employ-ability of graduates entering the job market where a driver’s license has become a common requirement on most advertised posts. Though not all jobs require driving as such, the sorts of jobs that graduates target specify it as a requirement in their job descriptions. This means that many young people are disqualified from posts before even sending in their applications. In a country where youth unemployment is staggeringly high, Uphephela is one initiative that is helping students take a step further to overcome this barrier to entry into the job market.
Nationally, public and private schools, and institutions of higher learning don’t offer driver’s education courses as part of their curriculum and the costs of obtaining a license are relatively high for majority of young,unemployed South Africans. Additionally, many don’t have access to a vehicle that they can practice with at an affordable rate. Thus the program helps students take the first step, playing a vital role in addressing one of the barriers to employment they are challenged by.
Siphenathi Xinela, the EFF Student Command Secretary from CPUT answered a few questions about the Uphephela Learner’s License Program that is currently running at CPUT campuses across Cape Town.
Q1: What is the Uphephela Learners license program?
A: UPHEPHELA LEARNER’S LICENSE PROGRAM is a program for all CPUT students that are currently registered for 2019 academic year. The aim of the program is to bridge the gap of employment requirements and obtaining qualification.
In our days it’s easy for a graduate not to get a job because he/she doesn’t have a license, so the first step of obtaining a Drivers license is to have a Learners license. We didn’t pick any color or race when we opened applications for the program. It is open to everyone, as long you meet all the minimum requirements to qualify to the program, which include 2 ID photos, proof of registration for 2019, a filled application form (that was provided to students) and a once off payment for material of R20. Classes are provided free of charge.
Q2: Who initiated the program,?
A:The program is in the EFFSC manifesto. It is firstly initiated in CPUT by the first EFFSC led SRC of CPUT, and by doing so we become the first University in Africa to offer this program as even government is still planning to implement it to High School first maybe in some it already exist.
Q3: When was the first intake?
A:The application process started on the 10th of April and classes commenced on the 15th of July, first group which went to book was on the 15th of August 2019.
Q4: Which campuses are involved?
A:Is currently operating in all three CPUT campuses that have EFFSC led SCR which are Mowbray, Bellville and District 6 and students are writing in different traffic departments.
Q5: Who is running the programme?
A:The person who is making sure the program is a success is the EFFSC led SRC member under the portfolio of Project and Development and he is Onwabile Gcaba. 606 students in District Six Campus alone successfully submitted their application and 208 went and write the test the total number of students who submitted in all three campuses is plus minus 1500 students.
Q6: What is the duration of the programme?
We can’t estimate how long is the program as it depends on the dates that students are given on traffic department, until all students who are registered and confirmed to write wrote their test then we can confirm how long does the program take but by estimation I can say the whole second semester because students of Bellville still needs to go and write when we reopen so its really hard to estimate hence I say the whole second semester.
Q7: Who is funding the programme?
A:The program is funded by Local SRC budget of each of the three campuses, depending on the number of students who are registered for the program in that particular campuses. We were working with NPO which is Now Empowering Achievable Dreams (NEAD), they are the ones which was providing Free classes in our campus and teaching material.
Q8: What challenges are you facing?
A: The most important resource we need is money to make sure the the program is sustainable throughout all years and it caters for all students of CPUT as the SRC budget is limited. Any help we get in terms of making sure the program is sustainable even when the EFFSC is not in power is welcomed, as we also transport students when they go book for test and when they go to write free of charge and comes from the SRC budget.
First challenge was that the communication never reached all students and there are students who took forms and didn’t submit them on time so we ended up extending the due date of application. Secondly some students didn’t fill in all the the details on the forms correctly as required. Thirdly we gave them 3 days for booking, but for the first two days turn up was low with students showing up in numbers only on the third day so we had to also extend the days for booking. Fourthly we had a problem with people who were giving classes as they were not all fully committed to the program and sometimes arrived late, though most did a great job. Additionally, we had an issue with the material as the NPO refused to give students the material for self studying after the classes to prepare for exams. And lastly, we had challenges with the exam timetables of some learners clashing with the learners licence test dates, as well as with reaching learners to inform them of their test date.
Q9: Plans for the future?
A: Our initial plan for the future is to offer learners an opportunity to attain their Drivers License as it is the final step in the process and is one of the requirements of jobs that a candidate must have in order to get a job, and also maintaining the Learners program.
Q10: How can the community and others get involved in supporting this initiative?
A: The community can help by volunteering in giving the applicants lessons for learners (those who have completed learners) and with sponsoring us with funds to maintain the program even with the transportation of students, and lastly a camera to take free ID photos because students paid for their ID photos.
To find out more about Uphephela Learner’s License program or if you’re interested in assisting in any way contact EFFSC Secretary Siphenathi Xinela at firstname.lastname@example.org.