George, South Africa


Carpe Diem School is a government school for learners with disabilities in George, South Africa. During 2017, Carpe Diem launched ‘Ukuwela’, a skills training and employment programme for learners with disabilities. Ukuwela is an isiXhosa (the African language of this region) word which means ‘to cross over’. The programme was initiated to address the unacceptably high unemployment rate amongst school leavers.
Ukuwela aims to develop the potential of each learner to enable access in employment opportunities which contributes to the economic empowerment and the restoration of dignity of learners and their families. It is the only school-based employment programme in South Africa which identifies, places and supports learners with disabilities in employment after school.
To date, 30 learners with disabilities have accessed employment opportunities in the open labour market in activities including computer, hair and beauty, barista etc. The programme also supports the skills training needs of 120 school-going learners.
One of the main priorities is to advocate and raise awareness amongst businesses / companies that people with disabilities can and want to work.


Main objectives:
• improved skills sets of learners with disabilities (75 school-going learners with disabilities per year)
• Improved employability and rate of employment (10 school leavers with disabilities per year)


Carpe Diem School in George, South Africa



Project selected in September 2022
Multi-year project: 3 years


Comgest Asset Management
International Ltd


Slabbert Van Zyl

Ukuwela has had a busy first half to 2023. Five of their learners who completed their schooling at the end of 2022 were employed at various places of work.
Ukuwela hosted two skills-based training courses for their senior learners presented by accredited training facilities. Michelangelo Hair Academy presented a Weaving and Braiding course for the senior girls and African Skills Village hosted a Basic Handyman Course for the senior boys. Following the training, learners received certificates endorsed by an accredited training facility that we believe will give them an advantage when being considered for employment after school. Ukuwela, together with Carpe Diem School, also embarked on a brand-new journey by becoming Computers 4 Kids (C4K) licensees. This enables them to present an accredited computer course for the learners with disabilities including learners who are dependent on wheelchairs for mobility.