Lighting a Fire for Inspired Education in South Africa

KZN Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize and Di Smith at the Willowfontein and Muzi Thusi School Visit

KZN Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize and Di Smith at the Willowfontein and Muzi Thusi School Visit

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but lighting a fire” – W. B. Yeats

On the day that all races voted together in 1994 for freedom, my father drove the farm labourers into Kokstad in the Eastern Cape – the small town nearest to Willowdale Farm – so that all his staff could cast their vote.

That evening I was speaking to Pauline and asked her if she would like to tell me who she had voted for. Pauline did not have the privilege of being educated. The faces of the political candidates were shown on the voting papers. This was done to assist those who could not read. One marked a cross next to the photo of the party candidate of one’s choice.

Voted for my Father

Pauline, in a dignified manner, told me that she had voted for my father. The family tried to think of which political leader looked most like my father. We decided it must have been FW De Klerk who was the candidate for the New National Party in those elections.

I tell you this story to emphasise the trap that an uneducated person can fall into when they do not have the knowledge to make an informed choice.

Pauline, now well into her seventies, is surviving off a pension and supporting numerous grandchildren whose parents have passed away.

Gcina Mhlophe at Willowfontein and Muzi Thusi Schools

Gcina Mhlophe at Willowfontein and Muzi Thusi Schools

Never Being Able to Read

Our history has left us with generations of Paulines who will never have the opportunity to read or write. These ripples will continue to be felt as youngsters don’t have elders at home to help them with homework or who understand the importance – or magic – or reading.

We know that in spite of all the other initiatives and interventions and preventions in our country, the only way we are really going to grow and achieve, is through better education and skills development.

And it is no use just throwing our teachers under the bus, we need to support and develop them; parents need to become more involved and kids need to be educated in a way that involves and excites them.

Inspired Teachers Conference

For those who are interested, Quality Life Company is presenting an Inspired Teachers Conference  on 1 March 2012 specially to showcase some of the most exciting and cutting edge trends happening in education right now.

They say, “Prepare to be inspired, shaken and stirred.”

Whatever your interest in brilliant teaching, whether you’re:

  • a facilitator keen to learn the best teaching methods available;
  • a teacher looking for inspiration;
  • a change agent committed to the future of our youth or
  • a parent who accepts that education is a community responsibility

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn from the most inspired and inspiring teachers around.”