Talk of the Town


- / with Dr Karel Prins Senior Lecturer

Q : Please tell us a bit about your work

A : I am a senior lecturer in the department of educationa­l leadership and management at the University of SA. As a result of the pandemic, I am still working from home in Port Alfred. I teach one of the phased-out modules in the discontinu­ed PGCE (post graduate certificat­e in education) online.

Q: How and where did it all start?

A: I was born on a farm called Jochomskra­al, between the Baviaans and Langkloof mountains and went to school at the Zandvlakte UCC Primary farm church school about 15km from our wattle and daub home. When my father was declared unfit for work, we were able to move to Zaaimansho­ek where I continued my schooling from sub B (grade 2) to standard 6 (grade 8). I continued my high school career in Dyselsdorp (grade 9) in the Western Cape. However, at the beginning of my grade 10 year a new high school opened in Willowmore. So my father placed me in the hostel at Willowmore Secondary School where everything really started to take form.

Q: Best moment?

A: My entire grade 10 -12 years because I was a prefect and senior learner. It was here where I found myself as a young man searching for meaning beyond poverty and farm life. This was where I met my friends and fellow learners with whom I would form ties for the rest of my life.

My student adventures at UWC (1991-1995) were priceless. With few resources, I graduated with a HDE. The following year I decided to study towards my BEd (Hons) in language education. I worked for my parents until 1998 when I decided to settle down and marry Mary Sonia Prins.

During my 18 years as a teacher (1996-2014), I enrolled for my MEd (education management) at Unisa where I worked as a part-time online teaching assistant. In 2014, I was appointed as a lecturer at Unisa.

In September 2019, I was conferred a PhD at Unisa. I received a standing ovation from the academic procession and the officiatin­g chancellor for the event (Prof Veronica Mckay) insisted on a hug after I knelt in front of her. What can be better than that!

Q: Low point (and how you recovered)

A: I was never happy with my matric results of 1989. I always felt there were serious marking errors. I did not ask for a remark. In 1990 I became one of the many unemployed youths at the time. However, by the grace of God, I received a job as cleaner at Eveready Batteries in PE. After six months, I went back to school to improve on my biology and history. This was the best decision of my life and I enrolled for the HDE at UWC the following year.

Another low was that for the last 14 years (four years with a master’s degree in education management) of my high school teaching career I worked as a post level 1 teacher without any success in all of my applicatio­ns for promotion to HOD or deputy principal. However, this only inspired me to advance even further in my educationa­l career into higher education and into educationa­l leadership and management.

Q: Down time: how do you unwind?

A: During my first year as lecturer at Unisa I met my friend Prof Victor Pitsoe, a well-read and published full professor in the department of educationa­l leadership and management. One day he just passed a guitar to me and said “you must now start to play, oompie…” From that day on I learnt to unwind through playing the guitar. I spend my best times with my wife Mary Sonia and nine-year-old son Master Carl Junior Prins.

Q: A song, mantra or phrase that sums up the way you see the world

A: God will make a way where there seems to be no way, He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me, He will make a way! He will be my guide, hold me closely by His side, with love and strength, for each new day, He will make a way!

Q: Something for South Africans to celebrate?

A: We must celebrate our diversity in a sincere and non-judgementa­l way every day.

Q: One thing SA needs to fix?

A: The way we think about ourselves.

Q: Top of your recommenda­tions for visitors to Ndlambe and the Sunshine Coast?

A: I recommend all our restaurant­s and their delicious food.

Q: Top of your own bucket list?

A: To travel the world (America! I want to go and visit my friend Chris.)

Q: Who is your hero, and why?

A: My father, without a doubt. He achieved so much without any formal education. Just look at me!

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