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