Precious Nthabiseng Maputle, the marketing coordinator at the University of Johannesburg’s faculty of engineering and the built environment, has an honours degree in communication theory and was on the Dean’s List for academic excellence.
For the past four years, the 33-year-old has helped address educational disparities faced by learners in the lower quintile schools in South Africa and those in rural areas. Precious has embarked on undergraduate recruitment drives to expose learners in villages in most of the provinces to science, technology, engineering and maths study choices.
Her programme incorporates motivational and career talks, as well as bursary and funding opportunities, and helps learners to apply to the University of Johannesburg. Through her office, the faculty has set up partnerships with stakeholders to address educational disparities.
These include the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Divhani Vhuyo Support and Youth Development, the Pella-Matlhako Development Group and the Rural2Rural initiative. Through these collaborations, Precious has positioned the faculty as a significant role player in developing and empowering future generations and providing equitable access to information so learners can make effective career choices.
“I am fulfilled by the opportunity and capacity to contribute towards equipping the next generation of leaders with knowledge which empowers them to make informed decisions about their career destinies,” Precious says.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
The best piece of advice was from my late grandfather, James Sokitla Kutumela, when he said: “ithuthe otle obe motho dichabeng,” which translates as, “Learn continually so that you can soar amongst the great in the world.”
Our theme this year is Accelerating Equality & Empowerment in Women. How do you empower yourself and women around you?
I empower myself through pursuing learning that fosters academic progression. However, learning is a lifelong journey that is not academically confined. As such, I position myself on platforms that cultivate my potential and harness my emotional, spiritual and mental capacity. I believe you can’t change the world if you haven’t seen it, therefore, I voluntarily participate in activities which provide an opportunity to engage in and champion sustainability initiatives that address challenges beyond geographical boundaries. Women have to adopt a global view to gain perspective on and foster dialogue on issues of global concern and thus take calculated steps towards driving change. With regard to empowering women around me, it is through embodying the philosophy of “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu. Motho ke motho ka batho.” To keep afloat, one has to be cognisant of our inter-connectedness. Living out this principle stewards collective success — ensuring the development of self and others.
If you could change or achieve one thing for South Africa today, what would it be?
Access to quality education for all learners, in lower and higher quintile schools. Learners in South African rural and underserviced schools are faced with severe challenges which act as barriers to effective learning, including provision of quality education. This contravenes the South African Schools Act as access to and provision of equitable, quality education for all learners is yet to be realised. In addition, the fourth United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 4) highlights the necessity of quality, valuable education with efforts to improve literacy. Therefore, the elimination of educational disparities, the promotion of accessibility and encouraging academic progression would be areas of focus.