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Never too late for self-empowerment through education

She is self-driven, a visionary, and passionate about education. Florah Mukumo, a Limpopo-born mother who comes from a poverty-stricken family, did not allow her circumstances to prevent her from obtaining her first undergraduate degree. She recently obtained a Bachelor of Information Science at the College of Human Sciences at Unisa. “What pushed me not to give up was that I was tired of working as a cleaner and wanted to get a better post,” says Mukumo.

Florah Mukumo

“I was born in a very remote area called Julesburg in Tzaneen,” says Mukumo. “My father died when my siblings and I were still young, and my unemployed mother was left to take care of us by herself. The situation made it difficult for me to matriculate. By the grace of God, I managed to get a job at the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality as a cleaner.”

Seeing her passion to learn, her supervisor allowed her to practise using a computer when she was done with her cleaning duties. Mukumo was later recommended for a post at the municipality’s library as a trainee library assistant.

Her supervisor motivated her to further her studies and register for a higher education qualification. Understanding that she can use education and knowledge to empower herself, she registered for Adult Basic Education and Training level 4 and computer literacy courses in 2002. “I had to attend classes after work, which was challenging, but I did it and passed,” she says.

Overcoming time management challenges

For Mukumo, a single mother with dependents, being a trainee library assistant was not enough as she was still earning the salary of a cleaner. As she empowered herself, she grew within the ranks and is currently a chief library assistant.

“It is not easy being a single mother, which is a full-time job, and studying at the same time,” she acknowledges. “Because I was expected to perform my library duties at work, I had to study during lunch. I appreciate the support that I got from my children and some of my colleagues in this journey.”

Her supervisor recommended that she study through Unisa. As it is an open, distance and e-learning intuition, it was easy for Mukumo to manage her time. “I would definitely recommend Unisa to others,” she says.

Embracing the benefit of education

Mukumo reiterates that her qualification helps her to effectively perform her work duties, including helping library clients with their information needs. She remarks: “I am retiring next year and will continue to support community information needs in various structures such as church and community clubs.”

She encourages students and those from underprivileged backgrounds to not give up on their dreams. She says: “Anything is possible when you believe in yourself and are passionate. People might think that it is not useful to have a degree at the age of 64 as I am soon going on pension, but the knowledge that I have gained through studying will empower me forever.”

Mukumo says that she and her family will forever cherish this achievement. “I hope to be a leading example to my children, grandchildren and every youth out there who is inspired by education,” she concludes.

*By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2021/09/09