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CEDU honours SA’s oldest teacher

Prof Oupa Lebeloane (Director: School of Educational Studies) in discussion with Nontsikelelo Qwelane, SA’s oldest teacher.

Prof Oupa Lebeloane, Director of the School of Educational Studies, travelled to Mpumalanga for a meeting with Nontsikelelo Qwelane on 5 December 2012. The initiative is part of the College of Education’s plan to recognise and honour outstanding teachers who have contributed to the schooling system in South Africa with an objective to inspire current and future educators.

At 92, Qwelane is the oldest teacher in South Africa. She started teaching in 1940 and has taught in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. She is currently the geography teacher at the Metropolitan College in White River, Mpumalanga. Qwelane holds a number of qualifications, which include a Bachelor of Arts, a Higher Education Diploma and a Bachelor of Education Honours from Unisa.

Qwelane believes that she is a teacher for 24 hours. She says she tries by all means to mark her learners’ work and return it as soon as possible. However, she has some reservations about the current syllabus in schools. According to her, the handwriting and reading skills of learners are not up to standard. Gogo, as she is popularly known in Mpumalanga and other areas in South Africa, is a disciplined and hard-working teacher. For example, she does not accept appointments during school hours, she does not take her cell phone to the classroom, and she respects her seniors, despite them being younger than her.

CEDU has extended an invitation to Nontsikelelo Qwelane to share her thoughts about the system of education in South Africa from 1940-2012 and how she sees the way forward.

*Written by Achieve Ubisi

27 comments to CEDU honours SA’s oldest teacher

  • Lethumcebo Khumalo

    I’m proud to be one of her student,she taught me geography @ Metro. GeograPhy runs through her Vains, she dictate her notes. she never missed her periods .

  • Sindiswa Gwaxa

    As a student teacher I am inspired by gogo’s achievement, hardwork and her dedication. With professionals of her calibre we would be talking positively about the matrics results that came out today, keep up the good work Gogo!


    what an inspiring person, its shows that when you have passion, love and dedication for something it becomes u, and you live it. keep up the good work makhulu- i salute you.

  • I am truly inspired by Gogo’s story. Very inspiring.

  • lesibe

    I don’t know Gogo, but I’ve learnt something from her story, its never too late to get education, no matter wats your age. God bless u

  • Daphney Sedibe - Cindi

    u Mam Qwelane taught me Geography at grade 11 and 12 in 1997 – 1998 at Nelspruit Private College. and i thank God for keeping her healthy and alive to enable her to share her brilliance with us. she is truly an amazing woman. May God keep blessing you abudantly mistress wam.

  • Lefentse

    I love the way Gogo looks!! HEALTH and FiT!! Please pass on the Tips of Healthy-living to our current teachers!!! Also I hope Angie Motshekaga Will visit Gogo for those wonderful advices that gogo posseses and IMPLEMENT as RULES for ALL teachers!! If only Angie could do tht!! Our children will progress! May the light continue shining on you GoGo!

  • Baraedi

    Mme Mogolo…you are a good example of young teachers.I wish they can learn a lot from you.I strong believe you are ordained by God to be a teacher.Mme ke a go rata.Indeed you are Holy for the Nation.May the gOOD Lord continue to bless you richly soo and your family(grand grand children)

  • Sello Olifant

    I wish all public servants can be pessionate and respect their role in society like You, Mam. No matter the executive or administrative role they have in the public sector.

  • Thandeka Ndlovu

    There are very few like her today. If more teachers in SA could be like her, our future would be way much better. Nothing beats a teacher that CARES and I personally feel teachers today have no love and passion for the profession, as long as they get paid on the 15th.

  • Faneriwa Norman Mkhavele

    Gogo You are real encouraging us to work and study very hard,if your are able to work 24hrs. Let God add many years to your life as an exaplary.

  • Amony Amanda Sepheka

    You are ashinning STAAARRR

  • Amony Amanda Sepheka

    Teaching was never a lousy profession. I am proud of you Mam.

    Once a born teacher always a teacher no matter how old. Thankyou

    very much forkeeping the flame of thededicated teacher


  • Mashaba Mokokena

    I wish to be like her ,where in i will be able to teach maths and science without text-book it must take a lot of effort and energy,can Gogo share her secrets please,i’m inspired .Best wishes for her and unisa.Her story really need to be documented.

  • Busisiwe Gazamba

    Encouraging. May God bless her and those who will follow her steps especially in this particular teaching career

  • Marumo

    I wish the other teachers we have in our schools can learn from her. It is clear it is not for money but love. She could have already gone on pension but she decided to stay and teach the nation. Mama, I wish her many more years.

  • I admire Gogo’s focus,consistency and excellent work ethic.She is truelly an inspiration to our generation.She definately qualifies as an authorityin what she does, she has earned it. Her thoughts are to be taken seriously by all, we have a lot to learn from her!!

  • Sandile Ish Ngobese

    Mmmmm if she can teach Geography without a textbook! what can fail us young people? Gogo you are so inspirational

  • Nicholene

    Wow! Gogo, is the type of person and teacher I aspire to be!

  • Samuel Chanda

    Gogo is truly very inspiring and principled. Someone to emulate by today’s professionals.

  • Nicolene Schalkwyk

    I am inspired and salute you Me Qwelane
    I hope to be teaching for many years to come

  • Thapelo Dilebo

    So inspired by Gogo…Wish you many more years to produce good students

  • I am truly inspired by Gogo’s story.How on eath does she get it right to teach with passion at 90 plus, while young teachers seems overworked already? Can I borrow your brain Gogo? What is her secret menu?

  • Njabulo Mnyandu

    Wow, what an inspiring story, an inspiring lady. I’m most impressed by her work ethic. Inkosi imbeke ugogo bantu.

  • I know Gogo well. Am from Zimbabwe, teaching in Zwelisha near Witriver were Gogo is working. It is sad to say that the current crop of South African teachers is deplorable. Very greed, lazy, without subject content, at times heartless. Gogo can teach Geo without a textbook. She is very inspirational, knowledgeable, dedicated. If we could have 9 Gogo Qwelane’s in South Africa, they would be enough to reduce the classroom chaos by 50%!

  • justin

    Writing from other countries i can only say Im inspired. What is the diet and general life style of this woman. Im proud of fer and Unisa.

  • Charlotte Modisakeng

    Gogo you are such an inspiration to the rainbow Nation, I embrace your dedication, hard work and motivation. May God bless you abudantly and may you continue to bless others with you God given talent.


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