UP Law student (23) wins Raising Legends award for launching NGO to fight education inequality

Posted on June 14, 2024

University of Pretoria (UP) student Dimakatso Lekola was recently awarded one of 10 prestigious Raising Legends Awards by the Hope Givers Foundation, in recognition of the work he’s already done – at age 23 – to improve his community.

Lekola won in the category ‘Community Builder and Education and Academia’ and was applauded for establishing his DK Lekola Global Education Institute, which helps high school learners from underprivileged backgrounds get access to tutoring and other educational support. 

Lekola, a student in UP’s Faculty of Law, says he is driven by a desire to create education equity through bridging the gaps in South Africa's education system. “I am deeply passionate about revolutionising education and fostering inclusivity,” he says.

While growing up in Phetwane Village, Limpopo, he lived the challenges faced by students who have limited access to quality education. This ignited a fire within him, leading him to pursue a law degree. “I witnessed first-hand the disparities and inequalities present in our education system. This instilled in me a deep sense of resilience and determination,” he says. “I decided to study law because I saw it as a powerful tool with which to advocate for underserved communities.”

This drive saw him establish the DK Lekola Global Education Institute in 2022. The institute provides crucial access for underserved high school learners to academic support, mental health services, talent development, legal compliance, and mentorship programmes. “Our purpose is to enhance academic excellence and promote inclusivity in education,” Lekola says.

The Hope Givers Foundation, founded in 2014, is a South African NGO dedicated to helping young people and their communities by providing education and social development programmes focused on areas such as early childhood development and educational support, and by advocating for social issues that impact young people.

Lekola says balancing his demanding law studies with his work for his NGO requires exceptional time management and prioritisation skills. He makes it all work by dedicating focused time to his studies while actively engaging in institute projects. Technology and collaboration with like-minded individuals further enhance his efficiency and impact.

He hopes his story of resilience, determination and a burning desire to make a difference will inspire not only aspiring law students but anyone who’s passionate about creating a more equitable future.

For people interested in studying law at the University of Pretoria, Lekola advises, “Stay committed to your studies, but don't just memorise – wrestle with the concepts. Seek out experience through internships, competitions, volunteer work – to turn theory into action. Build a network of mentors and peers to support you on the path. And remember, the law is a living thing – stay informed, engage in debate, and broaden your understanding with every step.”

- Author Yolanda Rakobela

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