A call to MTN: This unpaid teacher delivered, now it's your turn

Tom Eaton Columnist
Sizwe Kubheka is a mechanical engineer who has been teaching science at Thokoza High School.
Sizwe Kubheka is a mechanical engineer who has been teaching science at Thokoza High School.
Image: Supplied

This week, MTN sponsored the announcement of the 2020 Matric results. Today, I would like to call upon MTN - and any other South African corporate that wants to align itself with genuine leadership - to sponsor Mr Sizwe Kubheka.

Mr Kubheka's story didn't dominate the front pages, perhaps because it doesn't involve corruption or violence, but it deserved to be read by every South African who is starting to give up hope, to remind them of who we still might be one day.

A qualified mechanical engineer, Mr Kubheka struggled to find work in his chosen field, no doubt a severe blow to his confidence and desire to interact with the world. And yet instead of retreating, he reached out, offering his services as an untrained by clearly excellent teacher of physical science at Thokoza High School in Bergville, KZN.

Teaching Grade 10, 11 and 12, his senior classes have produced 100% pass rates in his subject over the past four years, and this year six of his pupils achieved distinctions.

According to reports in The Sowetan, however, Mr Kubheka taught for six months without being paid.

As COSATU howls about the public sector not getting its regular above-inflation increase, and the CEOs of underperforming companies keep getting obscene bonuses as a matter of course, it is reassuring to know that there are still people like Mr Kubheka, who keep doing remarkable work because it is their calling as much as their living.

This passion, however, does not absolve our state and our wealthy private companies from doing the right thing. If Mr Kubheka has suffered a shortfall, he must be made good, and if the state won't do it, perhaps because he is not an official appointee, well, how about it, MTN Corporate Social Responsibility team?

Of course, Mr Kubheka is not alone. Every day, hundreds of thousands of South African go to work, striving to pull their compatriots out of poverty and despair, often without reward, almost always without acclaim. Very few of them will ever be interviewed in the press.

But when they are, as in this case, let's take a moment to remember that we're better than we think we are, and that our future can still be bright, as long as South Africa is home to people like Mr Sizwe Kubheka; an engineer, a teacher of children, and someone who is making this country better, one lesson at a time.

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