South Africa has come a long way in trying to undo the effects of apartheid on our education system. We have just celebrated 20 years since the dawn of democracy yet disparities still persist and many remain excluded from the system. Many children and youth do not have access to education and live in dire conditions. Many who do have the privilege of getting access to education continue to be plagued by crime, poverty, and a lack of early childhood development support, hence the high drop out rates in our country.
A child’s early years are important for development and laying a foundation. Many studies have been conducted which prove that effective childhood development yields “academic achievement, behavior, educational progression and attainment, and labour market success,” in the later stages of one’s life.
At age 15, young Ashley Magutshwa has not allowed his circumstances define him. When he joined Sparrow Schools from the Ikageng Itireleng Ministry orphanage home, he had difficulties learning. Magutshwa and his sister were left stranded after the passing of their grandmother and were taken in by the orphanage home. He later found the perfect home in the Sparrow Foundation School. Through the multifaceted team of therapists from the Learner Support Unit offered by the school, Ashley has risen above his circumstance.
Eight years since joining the Sparrow Foundation, Magutshwa is now an active ballerino at the Johannesburg Theater. He is also a drama student at the National School of the Arts. He has featured in various plays including Cinderella and received numerous certificates. The 15 year old from Soweto now holds regular ballet classes for kids in his community on weekends.
The young ballerino dreams of travelling to the United States after matriculating to pursue his dancing career. He has ambitions of spreading his wings, venturing into business and having his own family one day. He is testament to the fact that it is not where you come from that will determine your success. It is what you do now that will determine where you go.