Woman on a Mission

TEACH Ambassador Alumni, Lindiwe Ngwenya talks about her new role as Head of Department, her passion for teaching and how she plans to transform her school

On August 1st Lindiwe Ngwenya, a former TEACH Ambassador, took up the newly created ICT Head of Department role at Zonkizizwe Secondary School.The role was created thanks to a new government program which aims to install computer equipment in secondary schools. Lindiwe will be looking after the extra curricular subject alongside her regular English class but has ambitious plans for the department…

So how does an English teacher migrate over to the technology sector? Over the last two years, through personal interest, Lindiwe has been heavily involved in creating and nurturing a student media team. “I had always been in awe of the talent I’ve seen the kids display but there’s been no platform to showcase that talent”. With access to smartphones the team have discovered how to film and edit footage alongside learning how to set up social media profiles to showcase the fruits of their labor. The team members have become experts in documenting life at school as well as producing videos about hard hitting, topical subjects. Their efforts have been rewarded with a number of impressive accolades. Last November they entered the prestigious UNICEF & Ischool Africa media competition, which focused on raising awareness of gender based violence. Their two video entries were awarded certificates for coming in the top 10 out of 52 entries and received airings on DSTV.

Competing and creating regular school updates has helped the students enormously. They can now competently film, edit, conduct interviews and publish content online. Their social media channels ‘Gems In Zonke’ have also been key in updating school partners and sponsors on the successes and talent within the school.You can watch their award winning video “Not Who I am”  over on their Gems In Zonke’ Youtube Looking back at her time at TEACH and its impact on her career Lindiwe says “It has been invaluable for exposing me to opportunities and experts in the teaching field. You as an individual must take advantage of that exposure to key people and networks. It’s also all about taking the initiative. During school holidays I volunteered to help in schools, not being fussy about the jobs I was given. This helped me grow professionally and expand my TEACH network. This network has been great for fundraising for my school and exposing us to partners and sponsors. The skills I learned have also been transferable and have given me the ability to spot new and exciting opportunities”.

Although difficult to believe, Lindiwe didn’t always know her calling was teaching. She had always enjoyed tutoring as part of her scholarship, whilst studying at university she’d never thought of teaching professionally. As luck would have it she stumbled across TEACH’s website whilst searching for youth volunteer positions. Curiosity got the better of her and she wanted to find out more. Lindiwe messaged the organisation for information and was impressed enough to enrol that year. She hasn’t looked back… “In training I realised I loved being in a classroom. Something shifted and I knew this was the place to be. 6 years later and I’m still passionate about it”. Her love of teaching has won her top recognition at the ISPA Super Teacher competition and has also caught the attention of the COSA Kids Foundation, who have agreed to come and asses her department to advise on equipment requirements.

Over the next two years there is a great deal Lindiwe hopes to achieve. She is actively campaigning to build a library and media centre for her school. She aims to make it fully sustainable by acquiring their own equipment, training staff and integrating technology into every day lessons. Within this time period she hopes to make IT a main subject. She is also working on a mentor scheme and is actively looking for professionals from all sectors to come and speak about their careers at the school. Finally, Lindiwe is a big advocate of her school’s charity which supports child headed households and orphans. She is currently looking to find donors who can sponsor individual families or donate clothes, toiletries and groceries. For more information on any of these campaigns please contact gemsinzonke@gmail.com

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