The power to change lives

When and where did you matriculate?

From Mafori-Mphahlele in Soweto, in 1996.

Did you have a favourite teacher?

My geography teacher, Bonolo Seolonyane. She is an angel, you know. All the learners liked her. She always brought a stick with her to class but it didn’t threaten or scare any of us. She was always calm and polite. We knew we could count on her for guidance on anything from schoolwork to problems at home. She also had the ability to make everyone do their work: she gave us long assignments to do but somehow everyone in the classroom finished them in time.

Any favourite subjects?

Biology. I always wanted to study micro-biology, maybe some day I will. The problem was that my biology teacher in Grade 12 knew nothing about biology. We once had an argument which turned ugly because she told the class that water boils from the top and freezes from the bottom — and then she refused to admit her mistake when I challenged her.

What are your fondest memories of school?

When I was elected president of the School Representative Council in 1995 and re-elected in 1996. It was the first time ever that a female ran for the presidency in our school. I was very rebellious and always fought for equal treatment of girl and boy learners.

And the worst experiences?

I was involved in a car accident when I was in primary school that resulted in me losing my teeth permanently. When I went to high school, no one wanted to be associated with me. I had to quit dancing because nobody wanted to be my partner.

What do you think of the many changes in the schooling system over the last few years?

There has been both good and bad changes. Personally I think our religion in education policy is the best. I wish I had had the opportunity to learn about other religions at school.

Allowing poor parents to be exempted from paying fees is one of the best changes ever made. No child should be denied a better future because their parents are poor.

One of the things I think needs to be revisited is allowing pregnant girls to school. I believe their right to go to school should be balanced with the fact that teachers are not trained to deal with pregnant learners. There has to be some form of a support structure for teachers — already overworked — and schools that have pregnant learners.

Why did you decide to be a journalist?

Among other things, I love writing and most importantly I wanted to help people. The media is very powerful and journalists have the power to touch people’s lives — negatively or positively. Also, I wanted a bit of fame.

What are your plans for life after the Teacher?

I am going to open a pub: Luthendo in Soweto. I intend to continue writing as a freelance-reporter.

Your message for our learners and teachers out there?

Teachers have the power to make or break a learner. They should therefore be careful of the remarks they make about learners to learners.

And to learners: It does not matter where you come from, what matters is where you are going and your determination to get there. YOU are responsible for your own future. Parents and teachers are only there to guide you, not to live your life for you.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Suzan Chala
Suzan Chala works from Jhb, Gauteng, SA. Editor of Sowetan Education, MSK and Matric Q&A. Former journalist: M&G. Love life and all its ups and downs

‘Tenderpreneurs’ block the delivery of protective equipment to schools

Protests by local suppliers have delayed PPE delivery, which according to the DBE, is one of the reasons the reopening of schools has been pushed back until June 8

‘Soon he’ll be seen as threatening, not cute’: What it’s...

There is no separating George Floyd’s killing from the struggles black people have faced ever since the first slave ships landed on these shores

How schools could work during Covid

Ahead of their opening, the basic education department has given schools three models to consider to ensure physical distancing

Press Releases

Empowering his people to unleash their potential

'Being registered as an AGA(SA) means you are capable of engineering an idea and turning it into money,' says Raymond Mayekisa

What is an AGA(SA) and AT(SA) and why do they matter?

If your company has these qualified professionals it will help improve efficiencies and accelerate progress by assisting your organisation to perform better

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday