Paying attention to each learner
Lucilla Blakenberg, 35, is the co-director of Community Media Trust, a not-for-profit television production and training organisation that specialises in all forms of media with a focus on human rights and social justice issues such as HIV, education and gender-based violence. She is a series director of the SABC’s flagship show Siyayinqoba Beat It!, an educational youth documentary series about HIV, primary healthcare and other social issues.
She has directed and produced a string of documentaries and the latest one, titled A Country for My Daughter, is a film about women, violence and the law in South Africa.
Blakenberg is currently developing a very exciting business plan for a project called GroundUp, which will involve community media in telling the stories of communities that are overlooked in mainstream media.
How do you earn a living?
By running Community Media Trust and making films wherever possible.
Where did you grow up?
Cape Town in the Western Cape.
Where and which year did you start your primary schooling?
I started my schooling at Heathfield Primary School in 1982.
Which year did you start your secondary schooling?
In 1989 I went to South Peninsula Senior Secondary School (now South Peninsula High School).
I obtained my communications degree from Unisa, where I studied from 1998 and I graduated 2001.
Did you have favourite teacher?
Yes, Mrs Titus.
Why were you so fond of this teacher?
She listened to the students and paid attention to us individually, even though we were 40 learners in a class.
What influence did she have on you?
She was my English teacher and she encouraged me to write and be creative. I have always loved storytelling and now this is what my career is based on.
Do you still have contact with her?
I haven’t seen or heard from Mrs Titus since I left school, but I understand she’s moved to another high school now.
What was your favourite -subject and why?
English, because I love stories, storytelling and reading.
From your point of view, what are the qualities of a good teacher?
A good teacher listens to their students and leads by example. As a learner, I was more likely to watch and learn from the behaviour of teachers than from what they told me not to do.
In your view, what are the things a teacher should never do or say?
A teacher should never say “You can’t do it”. Learners are receptive and able to do almost anything they put their minds to.
What message do you have for teachers in South Africa?
I wish that teachers would feel proud of their work, their learners and their role in the shaping of South Africa. We have a long way to go to standardise and improve our levels of education in all spheres — from infrastructure to access to quality education — and teachers along with learners should be in the forefront of the fight for quality education for all South Africans.
For further information on some of the films Blakenberg has directed or worked on please see beatit.co.za. Her films include Brother in Arms, Casa de la Musica, Through my Eyes — Blanche La Guma, Don’t Shoot, Tania Raised Us and many more.