WANDILE James Makhubu from Unity Secondary School has reflected on his 36 years in the profession.
He said he had always known he wanted to be a teacher as he was passionate about serving his community.
Makhubu founded Unity Secondary School in 1992 in Daveyton.
The school is known as one of the best performing high schools in Gauteng. He started his career as a mathematics teacher, but circumstances led him to establish a school.
The Crystal Park resident said during his schooling career he was taught by teachers who were highly dedicated and who were role models.
“Those teachers influenced us to become teachers later in life. One thing that was unique about them is that they had minimum qualifications,” said Makhubu.
“They had what was called a Primary Teacher Certificate (PTC) and the highest qualification one could have was the Junior Teacher Certificate.”
In 1992 when Makhubu founded the school, he was the only teacher, and the school accepted a group of learners who were known as “learners at risk”.
“Some of these learners were from exile and rural areas and needed to be educated. At the time, the government didn’t want to give us the school.
“Some of these learners were even older than me and it was challenging because the government didn’t want the school as when you were over 18 you would be kicked out of school.
“The community of Daveyton got many high-profile people involved to help us as there was a high demand for the school.”
The Local principal reminisces on teaching career said. “I taught my peers mathematics because I love it. I used to assist a lot of people from my community even before I went to further my studies and that is how I gained more and more interest in the career.”
Makhubu was unapologetic about his commitment to children and said he is proud that some of those learners are now well-known lawyers, doctors, nurses, and teachers.
He hopes that other teachers use this motivation to help their learners as well.
The 62 year old completed his undergraduate studies at the University of the North (now merged with the University of Limpopo) and his BA Honours at the University of the Witwatersrand.
From 1994 to 1995 he completed his master’s degree at the Northern Illinois University in the USA. He then returned to the school in 1996 and became the principal at the age of 32.
Makhubu said one of the most important things teachers can do is unlock a learner’s potential because every child has it and they should not waste their talents.
“However, things are different nowadays, as learners would rather have fun than making their education a priority.
“During our time, we were addicted to reading. There was less entertainment and the only electronic thing we had was a radio.
“We never involved ourselves in drugs and alcohol as school children because our families and teachers were strict and we considered every elderly person as our parent.”
The principal said he loves children and wants them to achieve as much as they can. “When a child misbehaves, I visit their family to find out what the problem is.
“Sometimes children are just trying to get attention because they need help.”
When the City Times asked if there is any hope for today’s youth, he said he has mixed feelings.
“Covid-19 has changed things a bit; we are in a new norm now. I can’t just drive to a tavern to collect learners to come and write their exams. Before the pandemic, there were situations where schools were disrupted by violence as learners would start fights so that their videos can trend on social media.
“Then there is poverty and there are still some learners who have low self-esteem.
“We also have parents who don’t motivate their children to unleash their potential. If we can fix that, the future our country will be in good hands,” said Makhubu.
He added that the pandemic can be used to the advantage of parents and schools to encourage learners who prefer going to social events, to stay at home and study instead.
“There is still hope and if we can guide the new crop of teachers, we can believe that our learners’ future will be safe.”
Lastly, he said he wouldn’t have been able to do what he has done without his family – they have supported him immensely as it hasn’t been easy to build the school.