“My job entails a range of responsibilities that require passion, creativity and commitment to educating boys,” says Siphakeme Mthabela, 27, an English teacher at Hilton College in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. “I need to be flexible and responsive to the changing needs of the English department and be an integral and visionary member of a dynamic English team.” His role requires being confident in IT and IT-integrated English teaching. He offers extra classes and tutorials to assist township and rural learners. Siphakeme served as an academic officer at Student Express South Africa in 2015 and 2016, a non-profit organisation that works to provide quality education and bridge the gap between the basic and higher education sectors. He has taught English as a foreign language to Asian children. In 2022, he was nominated for an International Education Award for Young Teacher of the Year, an International Excellence Award for Best Education Advisor and the Pacific International Award for Excellence in Education. Siphakeme says growing up with a disadvantaged background has motivated him and driven him to excel. “My background has fostered a strong work ethic, determination and resilience, which propels me to succeed in various areas of my life. As a result of my background, I have gained a greater appreciation for life, as well as a deep understanding of the struggles of others, including my learners, and a desire to make a positive impact on the world. Consequently, I am actively involved with various organisations seeking to elevate communities.”
- Bachelor of Arts Honours in English (in progress), University of Pretoria (2023)
- Postgraduate Certificate in Education, University of Pretoria (2022)
- Bachelor of Arts, University of the Free State (2017)
- Teaching English as Foreign Language, TEFL Professional Institute, Teacher Record (2021)
- Teaching English as Second Language, Lead Academy (2021)
- National Senior Certificate, Lindinkosi Secondary School (2014)
- I have been nominated for the following awards: International Education Awards for Young Teacher of the Year, 2022
- International Excellence Awards for Best Education Advisor, 2022
- The Pacific International Award for Excellence in Education, 2022
- Kenyan FOYA awards for Mediuprenuer of the Year, 2021
- SmartStart Awards for Inspiring Future Leader, 2021.
- Invited as a speaker and judge for international events, such as speaking at the International Innovative Future Education Summit and Awards being a judge for the 2021 PRNEWS Social Impact Awards.
I will always remember the day when my mother came home from the market with a bag of rice, a few vegetables, and a small piece of chicken. We were all so excited to finally have a proper meal. But as my mother was cooking, a heavy rainstorm started, and the roof of our small house began to leak. Water poured in and we had to move our few belongings out of harm’s way.
Despite the chaos, my mother remained calm and focused. She continued to cook the meal, using whatever pots and pans she could find that weren’t affected by the rain. She cooked the rice perfectly, sautéed the vegetables with onions, and seasoned the chicken with salt. We all sat down to eat, huddled together under a makeshift shelter we had built. That memory has stuck with me all these years because it showed me the power of determination and resilience. My mother refused to let the rain and the leaky roof defeat her, and she made sure that we had a warm meal to eat that night. That lesson has propelled me to be successful in my life, to never give up in the face of adversity, and to always find a way to make things work
Life is a journey, and it is inevitable that there will be ups and downs along the way. To make the most of this journey, it is important to embrace each experience and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. One should not be afraid of failure and should use the chance to learn from mistakes. In fact, every setback can be seen as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Keeping an open mind and being receptive to new experiences, people and ideas can broaden one’s perspective and promote personal development. Additionally, it is crucial to be open-minded and accepting of others, regardless of their beliefs or values, as this can help develop empathy and compassion. Finally, surrounding oneself with positive influences and supportive individuals can greatly impact one’s personal growth and beliefs.
In five years, I would like to see my country become more economically prosperous, politically stable, and socially inclusive. This would mean a reduction in poverty, unemployment and inequality, as well as improvements in education, healthcare, infrastructure and public services.
In addition, I hope to see greater transparency and accountability in government, as well as stronger institutions that promote the rule of law, human rights and democratic values. This could include greater efforts to combat corruption, promote social justice and protect the environment.
Overall, a vision for South Africa in five years involves a more vibrant and dynamic society that embraces diversity and encourages innovation and creativity, while also addressing the challenges of poverty, inequality and social exclusion.