Sanele Ntshingana: One can never be too busy to read

Sanele Ntshingana is an avid reader whose is fascinated by politics and the world of science. Photo Sourced.

Sanele Ntshingana is an avid reader whose is fascinated by politics and the world of science. Photo Sourced.

Sanele Ntshingana, is a third year Bachelor of Journalism student specialising in television. He is also a freelance writer, activist, Head of Board of Advisors at Inkululeko and a member of the Board of Directors at Upstart Youth Development Project. Ntshingana took time to sit for a Q&A about his school experience.

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The Freedom Circle

By Carol Kagezi

I grew up in a household where we spoke English for the most part. My mother tongue is Luganda but it was always much too hard to speak when we visited grandpa over the weekend or over the long school holidays.

He was once an educator so he spoke the “Queen’s language” flawlessly. He often read to us and told us of his adventures in English. However, he always made it a point to teach us the mother tongue by issuing us commands in Luganda. He would say “Mugende mu sene amazzi” to mean go and fetch water but he used this phrase rarely because like most grandparents, he spoiled us and did not want us hanging around the communal village well. He however often used the phrase “Kati saawa za kwebaka” to mean it is time for bed and we all often heeded. It never really bothered me. In fact, listening to my mother tongue roll off his tongue always gave me some sense of security. I adore my grandpa immensely so I always waited on him hand and foot waiting for the next Luganda phrase. It is from him that I learned the most of my language. Continue reading

Writers Talk About Education

Recently, the Writing and Editing 4 class went to the Franschhoek Literary Festival. We spent almost four cold and very busy days rushing from one panel to the next. There were a lot of very interesting topics that were talked about by writers, editors, journalists and teachers from South Africa, Africa and all over the world. One of my personal favourite topics to listen into, as an Ukufunda writer, was that of education.

There was so much said about education, even when the panels weren’t set to discuss it as their main topic. You’ve already received some of the wise words in the other two pieces I wrote, but I didn’t want to just leave it at that – there were so many other interesting things said. But to write all of it down would take weeks and weeks. So I took the compromise. Below is a short list of quotes from people smarter than me talking about their view on education, reading and schools. If anybody would like to talk to me about these, please feel free to email the blog or comment below.

“The reason so many people are doing badly in poor schools is because the standard is so low. Unless you take [the learners] seriously, they will perform to your expectations. Why are our young people not angry they are being dumbed down? It’s because they want things to be easier for them. There’s this internal belief that [a low pass rate is] acting in their best interests. But it’s not. Yes, you have a matric, but what can you do with that?” – Dr Jonathan Jansen.

“It’s important to note that IQ does not equal intelligence. There’s a misconception that people with high IQ are smart, and people with low IQ are stupid, and that’s that. But you can have a high IQ and do very stupid things. IQ measures how good you are with certain things, like math and science. Those people can do terribly at art, or dancing, or music. And even people with high IQs are usually only good at a certain thing – a maths person might be terrible at remembering sequences, for example.” – Gavin Evans

“Two things influence how well you’ll do in life – your actual intelligence. Those two things are nutrition, and level of education. This notion that we must only teach those students with a high IQ is damaging beyond belief. IQ is genetic, but also environmental, and it only speaks to a small part of intelligence.” – Gavin Evans.

“It’s all very good and well to say we need to give books value. But asking even ten cents for a book from a family that switches their fridge off before the end of the month because there’s no food to fill it is not going to work. They won’t spend that money. Even ten cents. The more you put something in the world, the more the world wants it. And this is the way with books.” – Arthur Attwell.


Fun Q & A with the Admin Clerk for Education

Ukufunda compiled a list of seven fun questions to ask different people involved in education. This first installment features the answers from Tamara Ndziweni, the Admin Clerk of Customer Care at the Grahamstown District Office for education.  Continue reading

The 411 on GHT Librarians

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By Sihle Jack

Grahamstown Library (Hill Street)

June Kockott  

Q:  What is your favourite children’s book?

A: Peter Pan was my favourite when I was a kid but I would say The Snow Goose or Where the Wild Things Are  is my all-time favourite children’s book.

Q: Why should children visit the library?

A: It will put them in touch with lots of books. [From an adult’s perspective books are] good for children’s development. If children read at an early age then they become more successful in school.

Q: What’s fun for children to do at library?

A: Audio book reading, where the children can listen to the auditory version of the book as well as read the text. There is also a book club, which is a lot of fun.

Q: What is your favourite memory at the library?

A: There are too many good memories to choose from. One of them would have to be little children discovering the beauty of books and reading. Another memory is of Emily Amner, who would read a ton of books and then come back and tell me about them with much excitement. Another special memory would have to be of the plus or minus six street kids who would come to the library and draw pictures which they would demand I look at. Being given the name Khanyisa (Khanyisa means to bring light) by the children who visit the library is also another memory I cherish dearly.

Q: What did you have planned for National Library Week?

A: We planned to increase membership and invite children from different schools over to the library. We had our normal reading club and a celebration on 19 March. We also had a volunteering Rhodes student come in and read to the kids.

Q: Something interesting about you? Continue reading

Lessons with Dr Mhlobo Jadezweni

Dr Jadezweni

Dr Jadezweni

By Sihle Jack

He starts by examining my knowledge of the IsiXhosa language, then proceeds to take me to task.

“Ndizakuthetha ngesiXhosa ke mnake, Sihle” [I will speak IsiXhosa only].

That was all it took for me to question my ability to conduct an interview in IsiXhosa. He further asks me where I am from, to which I respond, “eBhayi, tata,” [Port Elizabeth, sir]. He bursts into laughter and gives me homework. My homework is to go back home and ask my parents what the “real” isiXhosa name for PE is. After which he finally takes a seat and tells me about his childhood.

Dr Mhlobo Jadezweni is one of seven children and grew up in Idutywa in the Transkei. Talking about his childhood cheers him up as he tells stories of how he was lucky enough to have never experienced poverty at home. Dr Jadezweni says it was his mother, Ma Khumalo, who instilled humility in all of her children. She taught them the importance of sharing and was kind enough to share whatever spares of food or supplies that they had with their neighbours.

We are interrupted by a ringing cell phone. It is his and he apologises for having to take the call.

“I just had to ask someone to look after the crops back home in, Idutywa. Do you know meilies?” he smiles grins. We go back to our conversation where he tells me with confidence that he studied a Bachelor of Arts (BA) at the University of Fort Hare. His reason for obtaining this degree is simple: he wanted to get a degree that would teach him the way of life as he felt Apartheid required him to understand the situation in order to be clear on how to move forward as a country. It is in this that his love for his country shows. Dr Jadezweni mentions how he would go to gatherings with a number of key figures who had a significant impact on the struggle against Apartheid, although he did not play any leadership role. Black Consciousness, a term coined by Steve Biko is one of the many teachings he believes black people should learn. “It teaches black people their own identity and to form their own identity as well as independence.”

The humility shines in his eyes when I ask him about his published and multi-translated children’s book, “uTshepho Mde: Tall Enough”. The book has been translated into several languages, namely Portuguese, Afrikaans and IsiZulu.  He is more than humbled by the outcome of writing the book and looks forward to writing more once he has retired. In the meantime, he continues to contribute for other writers.

It is quite clear that this man is indeed a family man. Instead of talking more about the books he has contributed to writing, he tells me about his granddaughter, who is living in the United Kingdom with her mom. I could tell just how much he loves her even before the words came out of his mouth. He goes on to express how sad he is that he cannot spend more time with her. While an evident family man, he is also passionate about lecturing and tells me to refrain from gossiping about him with his students when I tell him that I asked around about him.

A favourite among students, Dr Jadezweni says that teaching is one of his many loves as he gets to watch students gain knowledge and make something out of themselves. A close second is his love for rugby even though he does not support any particular team.

While I thought that the conversation would have ended in his office, I received an email after the interview from this gravely humble man thanking me for talking to him. In fact, the email looked like this:

I enjoyed talking to you Sihle. Best of luck!