Teaching ‘the best mistake I ever made’


11 March 2013

Bilkes Bhano Vawda accidentally registered for the wrong course when she first went to university over four decades ago. Now, after 38 years in the teaching profession, she says it was the best mistake she ever made.

“I accidentally registered for the wrong course, but I enjoyed it so much that I decided to stick with teaching,” says Vawda.

For many teachers – especially those from Gauteng – who attended the National Teaching Awards ceremony in Johannesburg last Thursday evening, it was not surprising, when Vawda scooped the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The awards, attended by President Jacob Zuma and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, recognise “the selfless individuals that open the doors of knowledge to the future leaders, activists and custodians of our beautiful nation”.

Vawda has spent a total of 20 years at Marlboro Gardens Secondary School in Johannesburg, where she has been principal since 1998. She is still passionate about the profession.

“When I first arrived here, the school was catering only to Indian learners, but together with the school governing body, we have transformed the school. We have now grown to accommodate 1 300 learners, most of whom come from Alexandra.

“The area is not well off, so we strive to keep fees as low as possible, while still providing a quality education.”

Accepting her award, Vawda stressed that the achievement was thanks to the combined effort of her team at the school, that was making a significant difference in the lives of the people living in Alexandra township.

“Somebody once said the most important ingredient to success is the rest of the team, and the team at my school is indeed superb,” she said.

Other winners were Julie-Ann Lendrum from Winchester Ridge Primary School in Gauteng, who clinched the award for Excellence in Primary School Teaching and Ismail Teladia from Spine Road High School in Western Cape, who was named the winner for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching.

Mmakgompi Messina Mokgope from Tsitsing Primary School in North West province walked away with the award in Excellence in Primary School Leadership, while Derick Petersen from Imizamo Yethu Secondary School in Western Cape won the award for Excellence in Secondary School Leadership.

Karin Issabel Adlem from Pietersburg English Medium Primary School in Limpopo was named the winner for Excellence in Grade R Teaching, while Hanlie Christina Swanepoel from Estralita Special School in Mpumalanga won the award for Excellence in Special Needs Education.

The award for Excellence in Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning was given to Anita van Vuuren from Universitas Primary School in Free State. Khethiwe Komazi from Northern Cape won the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy award for Volunteer Educators, with Shadrack Moleko from North West winning the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy award for Supervisors.

Johannes Monnaphiri Melesi, a school principal at Kopanong Secondary School in Free State, scooped the Professor Kader Asmal Excellence Award

Source: SAnews.gov.za