“The class of 1976 demonstrated the importance of standing up for what they believe in,” says Anele Cebo, a fourth-year Bachelor of Education student and Chairperson of the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Tuks Leadership and Individual Programme (TULIP). “They stood firm in the face of injustice for a cause they thought would – and actually did – change the course of our history.”
TULIP is a student-run non-profit organisation that initially worked with four under-resourced schools in Pretoria, facilitating a holistic development programme for the top learners at each school. The organisation’s primary goal was to get as many of these learners into a tertiary institution. TULIP has since grown and now works with six schools, taking on not only top-performing learners, but any schoolchild who has shown interest in the programme and has committed to improving their academic performance and overall well-being.
Anele Cebo, who is the current Chairperson of the University of Pretoria’s Tuks Leadership and Individual Programme, started out as an ambassador at TULIP in 2018.
Cebo says that TULIP has given him the chance to facilitate leadership development sessions for learners, assist them academically through tuition and with university and bursary applications, and equip them with the soft skills they need to thrive when they access opportunities as school leavers.
He advises young people to relentlessly work towards their goals and to be persistent, even in the face of defeat. “The trick is to own your mistakes along the way and learn from them.”
Cebo started out as an ambassador at TULIP in 2018 and worked his way up through the various committee structures. “The organisation has taught me about the essence of empathy, to appreciate the opportunities I have been afforded and to make personal sacrifices in order to be part of something bigger,” he says. “The experience has instilled in me the principles of servant leadership and what it means to lead with heart.”
Through TULIP, Cebo believes that he is able to fulfil his life’s purpose to empower others, serve those who need help most and authentically express himself without compromising on who he is. Moreover, the end goal for him with the project would be to have a more inclusive, decolonised education system in South Africa, one that fully supports and develops every learner so that they are able to reach their full potential, irrespective of their learning abilities, social class or background.
TULIP takes on any schoolchild within the schools it works with who shows interest in the programme and has committed to improving their academic performance.
“The South African education system still does not fully serve its learners equally,” says Cebo. “We should continue with our efforts to fight for equal and quality education for all. Youth Month serves as a reminder that you are never too young to make a difference, never too young to play a part or to be at the forefront of a social movement that contributes towards positive change. For me, the uprising of 16 June is a story of courage.”