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Meet Phumza: Volunteer Teacher and Witness to South Africa's Future

December 23, 2013

For Phumza Gulwa, there is nothing more fulfilling than working with children. As a full-time volunteer at her local primary school in in South Africa, the same school her three children attend, Phumza manages the school library and leads reading activities with students.

Even though her only sources of income come from a social grant to support her children and the small monthly stipend of R300 (approximately USD$34) that she receives from the school, the chance to positively impact children’s lives and spend quality time with them is what encourages Phumza to wake up each morning. “To be called a teacher is an honor for me,” she says.

Her favorte time of each day is witnessing the children’s growth and academic improvement.

“There have been major improvements in learner performance from the first quarter to the fourth quarter,” she says. “In the last quarter of the year, pupils were able to read on their own and give both oral and written summaries of books.”

Just as a sports coach would videotape an athlete to show them how they can improve their technique, Phumza’s only wish is to get a recorder so she can document the children’s role-playing and storytelling sessions. She believes that playing back the sessions to the children would not only create excitement for learning, but it would empower them even more and help them achieve their full potential.

Sadly, a majority of the students at this school come from child-headed households, which means there is a greater chance they will drop out of school early in order to find jobs to support their family. Unable to complete her own schooling past 11th grade, Phumza is serious about inspiring children continue their education. She even created homework clubs for her students that offer both academic and emotional support. Her clubs worked! Learner absenteeism is now a thing of the past for these students.

“My dream for these children is to see them get an education and not repeat the same mistakes I made in life,” she says.

Learn more about our work in South Africa and our Literacy Program.

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