Thirty-three-year-old Tolika Sibiya has held the position of technical and vocational education and training researcher at the Centre for Integrated Post-School Education and Training at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth. He has also worked as a research assistant for the Raymond Mhlaba Research Institute for public administration and leadership; as a researcher on a project commissioned by the Human Sciences Research Council, and has been a research assistant for the Centre for Researching Education and Labour at the University of the Witwatersrand. With this full resume, he’s still found the time to co-author a book, write for some of South Africa’s most popular newspapers, and serve several youth organisations, non-profit organisations and non-government organisations.
“My goal is to be part of the academia and young intelligentsia that society needs to solve its problems,” he says. “I want to help contribute to knowledge production, especially in the education sector, particularly around the thorny issue of skills and unemployment among the youth. I want to contribute to issues relating to industrial growth and transformation, and youth development.”
For Sibiya, the South African youth are his greatest inspiration. And he is inspired by how they step up and step forward in spite of the socioeconomic challenges that face them and their profound commitment to building a non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South African.
“Their efforts to contribute meaningfully towards the future of this nation make me proud and confident of the future,” he adds. “My plans for my future are clear and straightforward. I want to help young people realise their full potential through organisations I am part of. I want to lead by advocating their interests and addressing the scourge of unemployment.”
The lofty goals driven by Sibiya are inspired by some of his mentors and those who have supported him over the years. Those who stand out include his late high school economics teacher, Mr Mndiyata, who contributed towards who he has become today and shaped his world outlook.
“My advice to all young South Africans is that success does not come cheap or easy,” concludes Sibiya. “Hard work, commitment, and determination are the steps to success. Most importantly, education is they key. It may not guarantee you a job today, but it does guarantee you a better tomorrow.” —Tamsin Oxford