Producing the teachers South Africa needs

04 Jun 2019

Investec bursary recipient Paulinah Modikwe tells us what inspired her to become a teacher and why education is so crucial for our country.

Current position

Teacher at Phuthaditshaba Primary School in Atteridgeville, Pretoria

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Education (Intermediate and Senior phase)
  • Honours (Bachelor of Education) with specialisation in Educational Management

First job

Teaching intern

Your top tip to young graduates entering the working world?
Get some work experience while you’re studying, so that you’re able to learn and build on your passion. 
 
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received about your career?
When I was the president of the youth at church, one of the church elders told me that if I got into the teaching profession, I’d definitely get a management role and would go places. This boosted my confidence and set me on my way to becoming a teacher.
 
What book are you reading? 
  • Who Moved My Cheese by Dr Spencer Johnson
  • The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson

What was your education like?


I was born in Marapyane, a village in Mpumalanga. I was raised by a single mother, grandmother and aunt. All these female figures in my life ensured that I made the right choices and went to school: I started at Patrick Mankolane Primary School, then continued to Mmasekaseka Secondary School and then went to Khamane High School. 


What made you want to become a teacher?


I was inspired by my Grade 11 Maths teacher, Mr Wunyala, who would leave me with the class whenever he had to attend workshops, giving me responsibility because he knew that he could trust me. As I got older, I realised that I had knowledge that I wanted to impart to others, and I also wanted to create leaders. 


How did you come to join SAMSTIP?


One day in 2013 I was browsing through Facebook and came across the ISASA Maths & English intern programme (now SAMSTIP) and decided to try my luck, so I followed the link and applied. SAMSTIP, Investec and the Department of Basic Education offer prospective teachers specialising in Maths and the Sciences the chance to win bursaries. Fortunately, I got called for a placement test, which I passed and was then called for an interview which was also successful. All of this happened at a very difficult time, as my mom and stepdad had just been retrenched. Luckily, my mom was able to give me some money to go for the interview. 


What were some of the biggest lessons you learned through the programme?


The greatest contribution I got from the programme was the continued support and motivation. It also helped me to develop more self-confidence. 

The SAMSTIP programme has identified the gaps in the teaching profession in South Africa and is doing its best to fill those gaps. I also like the way it combines studying with real life experience so that when teachers finally get their qualification, they are able to stand in front of the class and teach. This reduces the rate of teachers leaving the profession in their first year because they never got enough classroom experience. I believe that SAMSTIP is the best programme of its type in the country, because it only recruits the best people.
Paulinah Modikwe
“If you are educated, the education will humble you and it will also make you sit down and think of the consequences that your actions will bring.”

Paulinah Modikwe, Teacher at Phuthaditshaba Primary School

What did you enjoy about being a teaching intern?


I was able to gain experience in a good school and I learned how to manage a class, discipline learners and strengthen my confidence as learners believed in me.

Another highlight was being acknowledged for my hard work and receiving awards and trophies. I was able to decorate my home with my achievements and quietly motivate those who visited me and saw them. I always look back when things seem difficult and I tell myself that if I was able to achieve all that, then nothing is ever going to stop me.


What changes need to be made to improve the education system in South Africa?


I think the mindset of the children needs to change. Maybe it’s because I’m teaching in an informal settlement, but it’s like these kids only come here to get breakfast and lunch (through the feeding scheme), and they don’t really care about education. Also, some of them have the mindset that their parents will always take care of them, and that they don’t need to shape a future for themselves, so they don’t have to work hard. This needs to change.


Why is education so important for our country?


Having knowledge and an education are hugely important. Whenever there are illegal protests for example, it’s often the people who are uneducated who are at the forefront of these things. These are the kinds of people who burn down hospitals in order to get a school or vice versa. If you are educated, the education will humble you and it will also make you sit down and think of the consequences that your actions will bring.

Training to be a teacher? SAMSTIP, Investec and the Department of Basic Education are offering prospective Senior and Further Education and Training (FET) teachers specialising in the fields of Mathematics and the Sciences the chance to win bursaries. Apply here.
 

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