“Learning and entertainment don’t have to be mutually exclusive … I’ve found that children learn better when they’re having fun.” – GWF facilitator Mpho Lebyane
For Mpho Lebyane and Teaman Manzini, both in their mid-30s, Good Work Foundation (GWF) was the lifeline they needed to change their circumstances for the better.
Mpho and Teaman are digital facilitators at GWF’s Digital Learning Centre in Hazyview, Mpumalanga, where they expose primary school children to the joy and wonder of learning.
They both joined the Foundation as students and progressed to become Open Learning Academy (OLA) programme facilitators. The OLA focuses on equipping schoolchildren in rural areas with enhanced English, Maths and digital literacy skills, and has four supplementary learning streams: Conservation, Coding & Robotics, Citizenship, and Creative Arts.
From job-seeker to game changer
Mpho, a single mother of two from Oakley Trust near Mkhuhlu, Bushbuckridge, explains that before joining GWF, she had been unemployed and struggling to find work.
“My mom met a lady on the bus who told her about the Foundation and gave her a pamphlet with more information. I joined the Bridging Year Academy as a student in 2013, to learn digital literacy skills,” Mpho explains. The Bridging Year Academy helps rural youth bridge the gap – often a chasm – between school and a job or tertiary education; something that conventional schooling doesn’t equip them for.
As a student, she had an interest in writing and expressed this to GWF founder Kate Groch. “I became a media intern – writing blogs and articles for the media centre.”
In January 2015, Mpho became a facilitator and now assists in coordinating and managing a team of facilitators at the OLA.
“Being part of a team of game changers who make a difference in the lives of children is one of the components of my job that I am most proud of. The children’s lives are changed through gaining these fundamental skills, and observing their vocabulary improve over time is fascinating and inspiring.”
But, most importantly, they have fun while learning, she says.
“They often brag to their families and friends about coming to campus ‘to play cellphone games’, when, in fact, they learn digital literacy through various applications. That is testament to the fact that learning and entertainment don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Moreover, I’ve found that children learn better when they’re having fun.”
Teaman poised to follow his barista dream
Teaman’s story is similar to that of Mpho in that the Foundation also gave him hope for a better future.
Teaman grew up in a rural village called Cork near Mkhuhlu, just outside Hazyview, Mpumalanga, and lost both his parents when he was 16. The devastation of being orphaned at a young age led to a downward spiral that resulted in him dropping out of school.
“Fortunately, I had an aunt who cared and couldn’t sit back while my future went out of the window. She heard about GWF through an acquaintance and advised me to join the foundation. In 2014, I started attending its Bridging Academy,” Teaman explains.
“GWF was such a breath of fresh air for me. The facilitators were patient, kind and understanding of my situation and helped me even when I wanted to give up. And because of my determination, I was able to further my studies through a GWF bursary.”
Teaman would do some volunteer work with the children after his own classes. And the time spent with the learners lit a fire in him; he was a natural-born educator.
He completed his studies and became a digital facilitator in 2015, finding that the children quickly warmed up to him.
“I wanted to make a difference in the lives of the children in my community. I didn’t want them to experience the same challenges that I did when I was their age,” he says.
“My goal is to ease their circumstances. Watching a learner’s face light up whenever they start to grasp the work is why I do this every day.
“Being a part of the foundation has changed my life for the better. I completed a barista course in Joburg a few years ago. I want to use this to open a coffee shop in my community, something unique that we don’t have in the area.
“The Foundation has truly changed the trajectory of my life. When you’re in a dark space, you’re not able to see a way out of it. But GWF has shown me there is more to life by giving me opportunities and experiences I would never have had before.”
Watch Teaman’s inspiring story here: