SA: Making a difference in learners’ lives

basic educationBy –

Midrand – Ntombozuko Mkizwana’s desire to inspire and teach learners, who come from disadvantaged communities, to be fluent in English has kept her motivated for the past 18 years.

On Saturday, the Department of Basic Education recognised the Eastern Cape teacher for her commitment to the profession as she received an Excellence in Secondary School Teaching Award.

Mkizwana couldn’t contain her excitement. She was close to tears when she reflected how far she had come in life.

“When you are poor, you never know that you will make it in life. When you are the product of a widow, you never think that you will get educated,” she said.

Mkizwana chose to be a teacher because she saw that many learners who were gifted in her community struggled to find jobs.

“They would pass Grade12 but find that they could not make it in the world because they could not market themselves. English was that barrier,” she said.

The Mandela School of Science and Technology Secondary teacher uses drama, dance, debate and public speaking when she teaches her learners.

Under her leadership, the schools she has taught in have won many competitions for the activities that she uses to keep learners engaged.

She has vast experience as she has taught all phases of basic education.

“I have been exposed to different cognitive levels of children and I learnt that it’s easier to teach children at intermediate phase than learners in the senior phase,” Mkizwana said.

The 16th National Teaching Awards were held at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.

Through the National Teaching Awards, the Department of Basic Education acknowledges the extraordinary efforts of teachers, often achieved under very difficult conditions, in service to children from underprivileged families and economically depressed communities.

Sphiwe Sibanyoni of Iketsetseng Comprehensive Secondary School in the Free State was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Natural Sciences Award.

The 27-year-old man has been teaching for four years. He holds a BSc in Microbiology from the University of Pretoria and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education specialising in FET Phase Science.

The young man, who previously worked as a microbiologist, said he was bitten by the teaching bug when he was teaching Saturday classes at school.

“I love this more than anything. I love learners. I love teaching science. This is going to be very important as we need highly skilled science teachers in the country,” Sibanyoni said.

He said before he starts his lessons, he motivates his learners and encourages them to work hard in school.

Sibanyoni participates in an internet broadcast project that allows him to make use of videos and to stream live science demonstrations directly to his classroom.