Ukhanyiso Ebantwini have recently listed on SchoolAdvisor. We asked them to give us some more information about themselves and what they do. The following was submitted to us by Cathy Fry, the Managing Director of Ukhanyiso Ebantwini.
Having a background in independent schools it has been a real eye opener for me over the last 5 years to work in the state sector. What strikes me every time is the commitment and the passion of the teachers who attend the training I do, whether it is at the Thandulwazi Programme at St Stithian’s School or in the workshops I facilitate for the British Council.
Teachers in state schools are often portrayed as lazy, demotivated, unionised and corrupt. I have been fortunate to find many teachers who are deeply committed to making a difference in the lives of the children they teach. In Tembisa, in one of the secondary schools, there was a young man who was determined to set up a life orientation centre where the Grade 9 to 11 children could go to find out more about the different types of tertiary education available to them.
He was also involved in career guidance and profiled many of the Grade 9 children to ensure they had made the correct subject choices for their future careers. He told me one day that he could not teach hungry children and although the teachers in his school were all contributing to feeding the neediest children in the school, there were still many children who were lucky to have one meal a day. A few weeks later, a feeding scheme for over 1000 children was put into place.
Earlier this year I facilitated a workshop in Cape Town for SADTU. I was very nervous, being the only white person in the room and surrounded by the red and black branding of this teacher union. I felt daunted facing a group of over 70 SADTU reps. I needn’t have been. SADTU’s professionalism, their welcome and their warmth surprised me – they are the only group of people who welcomed us as facilitators from the British Council and thanked us at the end of the workshop for the work we had done.
Over the last few weeks, we facilitated a number of workshops in the Free State and the North West Provinces. In some instances, the schools were unaware that the workshops were taking place in their venues. The reactions could not have been different.
In one large combined school, we were told to do the training in a separate venue to the school. It was a church hall, made from corrugated iron and situated in a field adjacent to the school. The temperatures that week were in the mid-30s. The venue was dirty. The ladies toilets did not work and were leaking. The chairs and tables provided were sticky and dusty and no attempt was made to clean them for the principals’ workshop that was taking place that day. Nothing had been set up. The electricity was definitely dodgy and no water, tea or coffee was provided for the principals or the facilitators although lunch was served towards the end of the day.
I was horrified at the way the principals had been treated and that the school concerned had not tried to find an alternative venue for the workshop to take place. I found it demeaning that people at the top of their profession were treated in this way. Did they complain? Not at all. The principals all helped us to set up the venue, clean the desks and chairs and proceeded to participate in the workshop enthusiastically. I am not sure that principals in other schools would have reacted in the same way. I am not sure that I would have.
In a much smaller school in the NW, in a very rural area, we arrived at 7h30 to find the teachers hard at work setting up the venue. Table cloths, chair covers, cold water were all provided as was a screen, clean toilets with toilet paper and soap and mid-morning tea and sandwiches. We could not have felt more welcome.
Over 60 teachers sat at small desks on small chairs and could not have been more interested or participated more fully in the workshop. At lunch, my co-facilitator and I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. On our return, we were greeted by two full plates of delicious chicken, samp, and salads. I’ve found that it is often the teachers or schools who have the least who are the ones who always give the most.
I love the work I do. I wish more of the people in our country could meet some of the teachers with whom we work and see the passion and commitment in so many of them, particularly in the youngsters coming through. Perhaps more stories like these will change the perceptions so many of us have about teachers in our country. Teachers are the key to improving teaching and learning in our country. They should be paid what they are worth, respected for what they do and told more often about the difference they make.
Ukhanyiso Ebantwini means “Shining light on people” – in other words developing people and particularly the youth of South Africa.
To achieve this goal, Ukhanyiso Ebantwini (Pty) Ltd provides the following services:
*Disclaimer – this content was provided to us by Ukhanisyo Ebantwini