The Star Late Edition
Never too old to graduate
THE expression “you are never too old to get an education” is epitomised by Thandiwe Gladys Kobane.
At the age of 56, Kobane, from Soshanguve Block T, beat the odds and obtained a Bachelor of Education in foundation phase teaching at the Sants Private Higher Education Institution at Wits University on Saturday.
Her achievements come in the face of numerous challenges, including having only completed Standard 4 (Grade 6), which made it difficult for her to cut her teeth in her studies.
Despite struggling with research, having to use a computer – which added to her woes, and being held up at gunpoint three times, she persevered.
Kobane’s journey to her graduation began in 1994 when she took on the challenge of teaching Adult Basic Education and Training students, earning a salary of just R9.95. She studied at Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET), but also had to drop out after her aunt, who was paying for her school fees, died. Her aunt was paying for her because she was an orphan after both her parents died.
Kobane, who grew up in Merafong, Winterveld outside Mabopane, furthered her studies, obtaining a certificate that qualified her, alongside her Standard 4 certificate, to teach ABET.
Interviewed on Wednesday, the new graduate couldn’t hide her jubilation at her new achievements.
“I can’t explain how happy I am for graduating. I never in a million years thought it would be possible. I come from humble beginnings … but now I’m here. I want to thank the Lord because without him it would not have happened,” she said.
Kobane has set her sights on broadening her education at Unisa to tackle her honours in teaching and learning.
Years before her graduation she was approached by her district and accepted the position of ABET centre manager. “Managing the centre was an arduous task as some individuals were unco-operative, necessitating the development of effective strategies to manage them and enhance my leadership abilities,” she said.
To further her studies, she enrolled in the Early Childhood Development level 5 programme, which paved the way for her to apply for the Sants Diploma in Grade R teaching programme. “Upon pursuing my Bachelor of Education degree, I encountered significant obstacles, particularly in the area of research. Completing assignments and passing exams often required sleepless nights and intense dedication.
“Despite the difficulties, I remained steadfast and found solace in my faith, relying on God’s guidance as described in Proverbs 3:5-6. Through perseverance and divine intervention.
“I successfully overcame these challenges, and for that I am truly grateful.”
Kobane hopes to continue making a positive impact on the lives of her students and inspiring others to pursue their dreams in education.
Speaking to the Pretoria News on Wednesday, Sants executive academic director Professor Ina Joubert said the institution was proud that Kobane had remained positive, had won until the end and was among the 1 344 autumn graduates.
“Graduation signifies the end of a student’s study journey and confirms the beginning of their new profession. It is a celebration of their perseverance in achieving the qualification. Having family or friends present at the ceremony is an indication of their support during the years of study,” Joubert said.