10 September 2018 Photo Charlene Stanley
Learning to hope Doretha jacobs
Doretha Jacobs from UFS Consumer Studies teaches Matshidiso Motlhabane from Thaba Nchu Machine Sewing for Beginners.

The 6th annual Learning Festival is a combined effort by the UFS, NGOs and government departments, and is all about equipping people with skills that can help them to earn an income and so improve their quality of life.

Where it all began

The festival started six years ago as a conference focusing on job creation that the university hosted with Bloem Shelter, an NPO caring for homeless people. What started as a talkshop, has matured into a fully-fledged workshop in the truest sense. This year about 500 different skills-training opportunities are on offer, ranging from hairdressing, carpentry, and sewing, to workshops on mindfulness, 3D printing and first aid training. “The imparting of knowledge is not just a one-way flow,” explains UFS Director of Community Engagement, Bishop Billyboy Ramahlele. “Workshop presenters also learn a lot from participants. People empower one another with knowledge, and in so doing, we build better communities.”  

Creating heroes

This year’s theme, From Zero to Hero, is more than a slogan; it’s a reality. Some workshop attendees that started with absolutely no skills three years ago are now running successful businesses. 

Road to hope

“This is so much more than just teaching people a way to earn money,” says Izak Botes from Bloem Shelter. “When people don’t work, they also lose their sense of belonging and they start doubting their own worth. This festival is about teaching them to believe in themselves again.” 

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