Picture this: A little girl standing all alone in her small bedroom surrounded by an imaginary class of children. And she is the teacher. She uses scruffy old magazines as the text books. Teaching to her imaginary class is her daily game. She is poor but loved dearly by her single mom and grandparents. She is raised with good morals and values. Her dream for teaching blossoms in that small bedroom. It grows as a passion in her imagination. One day she will become a real teacher.
This small child is now a young woman. Her name is Tebogo Mabusela. She is 18-years old and recently started her teaching internship at UCS (United Church School) in Yeoville, Johannesburg. She matriculated at this school. Now she will become a fully qualified teacher there.
It’s all thanks to the education she received at home and at UCS that is seeing her childhood dream become a reality. “I come from a strict family. They believe that education plays a fundamental role in our lives. My grandfather gives me motivational talks about life to make sure I stay on the right track. He often tells me if I have a goal to keep going no matter what to get to that goal. This motivates me. I knew from the get go what I wanted to do in life and I would find my way there no matter what,” says Tebogo.
Her grandparents had a very positive impact on her life. They showed her what it meant to be loved and nurtured. “It gave me the love and passion I have for children. I want to help children. From the age of 12, I already knew about the poverty in our country and about orphaned children. I wanted to foster them and teach them,” she says.
Being a learner at UCS worked out well for Tebogo because the school runs a successful teachers’ internship programme. It sponsors the tertiary fees at any South African university for UCS learners wanting to become teachers.
The school also offers practical training and helps equip the interns to become brilliant teachers, who will then teach at UCS. The internship is designed to produce the best quality educators who will, in turn, produce excellent learners.
But her journey to learning and becoming a teacher hasn’t always been an easy one. As her two older brothers never received a grade 12, there was immense pressure on Tebogo to succeed. “The final exam period was intense for me. I felt like I had not only my family but the whole community putting pressure on me to do well. People were telling me how hard life would be if I didn’t pass my matric. It was a bumpy ride. I had to be strong for myself to succeed. In the end, though I knew everyone was encouraging me to do my best,” Tebogo explains.
She recalls times at UCS when she would participate in class assemblies by reciting speeches in front of teachers, learners and guests. This was an accomplishment for her as it helped boost her self-esteem and give her practice for the many, many times she would be standing in front of her learners one day as a teacher. “I was very active at school and I did not limit myself. I was chosen to be a Prefect in primary school and then to be part of the Learner Representative Council in high school. Even though I was quite an over-weight child in primary school I still took part in athletics and did long distance running. I became part of the volleyball team and with the good skills I had I was chosen as team captain,” she says. “At UCS we are taught to believe anything is possible.”
With her zero-limit attitude and good home-grown values, Tebogo is sure to go far in life and teach other youngsters to reach for their dreams. And, with UCS’s support she has not only reached for her dreams to become a teacher, she has also secured a place in the future with that rare group of teachers who excel.