The Leaders Readying the Youth for the Future
“Teaching has changed,” says Principal Ndlovhu. “It is no longer like in the olden days when we were at school. Now, you need to be an agent of change.”
At the primary school in North West, affectionately named after Mr Patrice Motsepe’s grandfather, Principal Ndlovhu is responsible for 23 educators and 800 learners.
Principal Ndlovhu has had a passion for teaching since he was a child. Growing up as a paster’s son, he was raised with the values of respect, service, and kindness, which he believes has set him up to support the learners he works with.
“Teaching will make you love others and humble yourself,” he says. “You learn to respect all people and have an attentive ear. You understand everyone from his or her own perspective.”
Principal Nare enjoys listening to learners and guiding them along their path. “If the learners have stories to tell, they tell me, and I help them to work together and solve their problems. Learners are able to think critically because they have access to information,” he says.
With increased access to information, education has had to adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “We need to change to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and make sure it doesn’t challenge us.”
Following a R320 000 donation from the Motsepe Foundation, Principal Ndlovhu has introduced a fully equipped media centre to his learners and teachers, making it one of the first primary schools in the area to initiate ICT learning. From grade R to grade 7, learners are being prepared for a digital future and teachers are incorporating technology across disciplines, including language and mathematics.
The approach Mr Ndlovhu takes to education is to involve the community. “We need to work very hard to make sure that the community understands the role of the school in the lives of the learners.” He is dedicated to ensuring that parents participate in the education of their children, and he recognises that learners, particularly at primary school, are dependent on parents and teachers for their success and academic achievement.
“Learning without playing will make learners dumb,” he says.
Nelson Mandela famously referenced education as “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Principal Ndlovhu has spent his years as an educator living by this philosophy and guiding others towards its value. “Once you have the right weapon, you can work in education. The weapon is to understand and care. Learners should be treated with care because we are dealing with a holistic individual,” he says.
Work at the rural high school in Limpopo is challenging, particularly because of budget constraints. Principal Nare runs the school, hosting 935 learners from relatively poor backgrounds, some of whom come from child-headed households. With 26 teachers and an annual R700 000 budget, he purchases all school supplies, including white boards and textbooks, travel for teachers to workshops, and maintains the school facilities, which includes providing a salary to the gardener and guards.
Since the R350 000 donation from the Motsepe Foundation, the school identified an infrastructure project that would reduce costs while also enhancing the quality of education. The decision to install solar panels and purchase an invertor was strategic. “We are not one hundred percent off the grid, but we can take advantage of the climate in the town,” he says.
“Generators are noisy and disrupt classes. And solar power has minimised our statement of electricity.”
Despite the budgetary restrictions, Principal Nare gives credit to his teachers. “Grade twelve educators have suggested coming in on Saturday and Sunday to push the learners. I am blessed to have staff who are willing to work without being remunerated or receive a stipend.”
After achieving an 82.5% matric pass rate in 2022, the school has set a target of 90% for the class of 2023. “With the targets, you need resources to do that. We need paper and Wi-Fi for learners who do not have it at home. We also download materials to improve teaching.”
Principal Nare had wanted to become a doctor but faced his own financial difficulties along the way. “I had to work as a petrol attendant, at a shop, and in the home of the shop owner until I gathered the money to go to a college. I also became a private teacher, and I was not paid for the first six months”.
When he finally was able to go to college, he achieved first position in the first term. “The principal of the college took us to a restaurant. It was my first time in a hotel eating with a fork and knife. I learned that those who he had dinner with did not have to pay tuition.”
His dedication and perseverance earned him a scholarship, and while he wasn’t able to go to medical school, he worked his way to become head of department for natural sciences, deputy principal and now principal. “Your future is not determined by your background or financial circumstances,” he says.
“We need to find a way to show that education is important. If they pass with low grades, they will roam around, and others will not be encouraged to go to school. The learners in lower grades need to see that if they study hard, there are opportunities for them. People are waiting for them and will give them assistance.”
From experience, Principal Nare overcomes challenges with resilience and the support of others. “This year, we are leaning over a giant tree. The baobab tree is the Motsepe Foundation.”