Over 230 young women from select disadvantaged schools across Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape have been through NextGen since it began in 2012.
The statistics speak for themselves. One hundred percent of participants have passed their matriculation examinations, except for 2018 when the pass rate was 97% and there were 96 distinctions.
But those statistics only tell part of the story. For girls like Lehlabile Davhana, one of the original group of 30 girls enrolled in the program, its effects have been transformational.
Coming from an underserved Johannesburg township, and having lost her mother at an early age, Lehlabile had faced her fair share of hardship. Her achievements in the face of adversity drew her to the attention of the Ministry of Basic Education, which identified her as one of 30 high-potential young women with both the grades and the character to become a future leader.
Through NextGen, Lehlabile was able to attend the Africa Leadership Academy (ALA) on a full academic scholarship. Since graduating, she’s embarked on another new adventure, traveling to Trinity College in Connecticut, USA, to study for a degree in social development.
“Without NextGen, I would never have had the opportunity to study at ALA or go overseas. The network EY has exposed me to makes me truly excited about my future,” she says. “Growing up, I was exposed to young people falling pregnant and dropping out of school, but I’ve learned I don’t have to choose that path. I can push through the barriers of my past and grow.”
Stories like Lehlabile’s are not unique. More than 90% of NextGen girls have gained university entrance passes and have gone on to pursue degrees and careers in fields such as medicine, engineering, accounting, forensics and microbiology. Once they leave university, they’re again connected with EY mentors who help them build their careers.
This too is just the start of an even bigger ripple effect. Consider, for example, that women invest significantly more of their income in their children’s well-being and education as well as in their communities. Consider estimates that women’s equality in the labor force could add US$28t to the global economy. Consider that, when led by a woman, countries achieve an average of 5.4% gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the subsequent year, compared to 1.1% if led by a man.
The evidence is clear. Empower women and girls to become future leaders in business and society, and they become critical catalysts for the sustainable and inclusive growth the world needs.