College of Human Sciences

From a domestic worker to an assistant director - against all odds!

Ms Johanna Baloyi

When Dr Nelson Mandela said "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Education is the key to eliminating gender inequality, reducing poverty, creating a sustainable planet, preventing needless deaths and illness, and to fostering peace", you would swear he had read Ms Johannah Baloyi's autobiography. When Unisa coined their vision: "Towards the African University shaping futures in the service of humanity", you would also swear they had had Baloyi in mind.

In 2003, a then domestic worker, Baloyi, turned a new leaf in life when she graduated with a BA degree in Political Science and Communication at the University of Unisa. The then 41-year-old single mother to then 14-year-old daughter Marcie, was heeding to the former Head of State, Dr Nelson Mandela's call for young people to return to school. It was in 1998 that she first registered for a degree, a journey that started with an ABET certificate.

When she completed her degree, her life turned around for the better when she got an internship at the then Department of Mineral Energy in 2003. In 2004, the department offered her a permanent job as a Secretary where she worked until 2008. She was again promoted to a Vetting Admin and later joined the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as a Vetting Officer. In 2014, she joined the Department of Labour as an Assistant Director where she established a vetting unit.

Sixteen years later, on 26 September 2019, Baloyi returned to Unisa to graduate with a degree in Bachelor of Arts (Health Science and Social Services).

Baloyi who used to stay in a shack at an informal settlement in Soshanguve outside of Pretoria, says she chose not to move out of the residential area but improve her place because she wanted to inspire others who stay in Extension 8C Soshanguve South.

Baloyi believes that education will take you places that you never thought you will reach. "After the exams, I called my friend reminiscing about how after exams we would be rushing to catch a train, sometimes we did not even have those train tickets, we borrowed them from our neighbours, now today I am calling, sitting in my car," she said. This is evidence that education is the key to success. She added that that fear is the reason most people have not achieved their dreams, and it seems there is no stopping her as she just registered for an Honours degree in Counselling Psychology.

Ms Johannah Baloyi with her family members and Unisa staff: Prof SK Ndlovu (Vice-Principal: Strategy, Risk and Advisory Services) and Prof CP Cilliers (Associate Professor, Department of Communication Science).

* By Edgar Rathelele, Senior Media Officer, Directorate of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2019/10/10