Winner of the Stella Clark Teachers' Award, 2008

In 2008 Mr December Mpapane, a Mathematics teacher from Nkomazi High School in Mpumalanga, received the Award. He achieved outstanding results (including 175 distinctions, and not a single failure in the 13 years he has been at Inkomazi). The student who nominated him, Nhanhla Nkuna, said at the award ceremony: “He has won the award for best Maths teacher in the Mpumalanga Education Department’s Ehlanzeni region every year since 1996. His passion, dedication and love for what he does are the things that motivate me every time I meet a challenge.” Mr Mpapane’s address at the award seminar provided insight into some of the daily struggles of teaching in an impoverished context:

“I introduced extra classes as in afternoon, Saturday and even Sunday classes. Some community members strongly challenged the issue of Sunday classes: I did not give up. The Sunday classes are only meant for tests purposes. For me every day of the week is a school day. To date I have produced 175 Distinctions. For the past 13 years every single child taught by me has passed, and many have become engineers, doctors and accountants; the list is endless...” “My teaching time is very inconsistent; some days when learners write tests, they finish off at 21h00-22h00. It becomes then my financial responsibility to call the parents who are mobile to collect their kids and to those who are immobile a transport (minibus) has to be arranged for safe home delivery and I have to be financially liable. Because of the socio-economic situation of the area and the time span spent at school by learners during teaching and learning, it remains a personal obligation to buy my learners soup and bread as well as juice for survival and concentration especially on these days. The little that I’m paid I have to share it with my family and my learners and I’m not complaining.”

Read more about Mr Mpapane in the UCT News article: "Teacher's dedication honoured".