Mandela Day: Keeping Nelson Mandela’s passion for education alive

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Among many Nelson Mandela great quotes about education, this is one of his most famous. Apart from his many great qualities such as the capacity for forgiveness, servant leadership, equal rights and his activism, it is no secret that Nelson Mandela was a change agent, passionate about having equal educational opportunities for everyone in the world.

Mandela Day is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday. Mandela Day is a day to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s former President, and his values, through volunteering and community service. Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, and has the ability to make a positive impact.

This year the Nelson Mandela Foundation has launched a new Mandela Day strategy, titled: Mandela Day: The Next Chapter, to mark the tenth anniversary of the initiative. In the next 10 years, the foundation is looking to mobilise people, governments, civil society and corporates to focus on these 5 areas: education and literacy, food and nutrition, shelter, sanitation and active citizenship.

Over the past two years Wits DigitalCampus and LRMG have sponsored one learner from The SmilingOne Foundation who have gone on to use the project management skills they have learnt in the community and prison projects that they run. You can read more about the SmilingOne and the work that they do here (

For the 10th anniversary of Mandela day we are once again partnering with another special organisation and gifting a full learning experience cumulating on successful completion of the selected Wits Accredited course in the awarding of a Wits Certificate to five unemployed South Africans. This year we are partnering with Columba Leadership who will be selecting five of their Alumni who have undergone their leadership process and have matriculated from school to embark on this exciting journey with Wits DigitalCampus.

Columba Leadership’s purpose is to transform the culture of schools to change the trajectory of youth.

Founded in 2009, their mission is to build a national movement of ethical leaders for youth enterprise and employment and social good. The organisation develops character based on values of young leaders in schools.

Supported by their educators and principal, they form teams with peers and implement projects to address challenges they face in their schools and communities. In the process, the learners learn important skills like critical thinking, collaboration, communication and resilience, and introduce the spirit of enterprise and social action into schools.

Young leaders become role models and respected change agents who make a contribution to improving discipline and creating a more conducive learning and development environment in schools.

Columba establishes multi-year partnerships with schools, engages all school stakeholders, trains educators, clusters schools and aligns with education department processes so that schools maintain the impact after the organisation has left as the school embeds youth engagement into its culture. To read more about the exciting contributions that Columba make in the South African School environment visit their website The vision is to enable these five deserving young people to have a better chance of accessing the world of work. Already equipped with a set of 21st Century skills which they gained through the Columba Leadership process, they will now have the opportunity to gain competency in a skill which will be of value to a potential employer.

Be sure to check in again with our September Campus Connect when we will be introducing you to the five Columba alumni that will be embarking on their selected courses during our September intake. We believe that with this Mandela day action we are truly living our combined purpose as an organisation as well as making a small difference in the Spirit of Mandela day.


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