Monde Sitole on empowering youth through education

Some 12 years ago, Monde Sitole (25), Educational Strategist and pioneer of the NextSchool Initiative, started a school with only 100 pupils. Now the initiative reaches 1 200 learners in four schools across Khayelitsha

“NextSchool focuses on bringing about education that is both engaging and empowering by using various strategies and initiatives,” says Sitole.

Sitole believes in the importance of empowering and inspiring South Africa’s youth through education. This is the central vision of the Monde Sitole Foundation, the multi-faceted and innovative educational division of NextSchool.

“We encourage creative thought-processes through problem-solving, while instilling values such as leadership and group work. Our schools provide learners with a modern, character-based training system,” says Sitole.

Sitole says that NextSchool is about skills development, capacity-building and self-sufficient, functional and independent schools that seek to make education relevant, engaging and transformative, giving learners the opportunity to innovate and adapt to an increasingly globalised world.

NextSchool Initiative consists of the School of Frugal Innovation, which reduces the complexity and cost of education, and the Khayelitsha Innovation Summit, a three-day event held annually in September.

The third school is the Adventure Outreach Club, which offers extreme sports and outdoor activities like mountaineering, rock climbing, sailing, etc.

Lastly, the Khayelitsha Electronic School provides learners with the skills, resources and equipment they need to create solutions, using technology, electronics and science as a catalyst.

“We teach former gangsters and ex-addicts to develop code, robotics and artificial intelligence and expose them to a conducive environment of learning, with skills, mentorship and resources that encourage innovation,” says Sitole.

Sitole says that NextSchool has partnered with universities and is focused on getting the right people to realise its vision and get teachers to understand that teaching is an art form, involving creativity and fun, engaging spaces.

“At the moment, we don’t see any profit because we are investing in expanding the NextSchool Initiative,” says Sitole.

“My immediate goal is to climb Mount Everest to raise R16 million to build an all-girls school in Lady Frere, Eastern Cape, in 2018 and creating #Dialogue App, a portal that engages users on quality and meaningful education content,” Sitole concludes.