After 38 years of service as a teacher at Madibane High School, the same school that groomed and taught her during her youth, Nelly Matabane still felt an unrelenting sense of attachment to the institution.
After her retirement last year, Nelly Matabane realised she could not sit at home and enjoy her free time doing nothing while her renowned teaching skills were still desperately needed by the younger generation. She carried out this noble act even though it meant she would not get a salary for her services.
“I love teaching the learners and I realised that staying at home while Madibane is having problems with teachers who are teaching more than two subjects, I said let me go and help, and help fully and be committed,” she said.
“I have a passion for teaching and I want to see the school going back to its roots.”
She said Madibane’s teachers were over loaded with work, but they put a great deal of effort into each child.
During the apartheid era, Madibane High School in Diepkloof was regarded as one of Soweto’s best schools. Its alumni are made up of a lot of prominent people in the society including -Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Judge Nkola Motata, ANC stalwart and activist Motlalepula Chabaku, and current Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane.
Community Safety MEC Szakele Nkosi-Malobane was at the school on Wednesday to reward the teachers for helping to pull the matric pass rate of the school up from 62% in 2014 to 94% last year.
Nkosi-Malobane confessed that Nelly Matabane was the main reason why she pursued a career in politics. She said at the awards ceremony,
“The reason why I’m in politics is because of this woman. She didn’t know that. We used to use her library and we started a group and on Fridays we would always have days where we debated. We always looked forward to Fridays.”
She further commended Nelly Matabane, who taught English, Setswana, and also helped out with netball classes as an extra-curricular activity, for imbibing discipline and a love of learning to her pupils.
Nelly Matabane lamented that it was sad to see the school drop to such a low-level.
“It makes me so sad. These schools were the schools of the time, it frustrates me, it kills your morale, but God is there. We want to come back, and do something good for the school and try to get the school to go back to its high.”
The school’s current pupils came from very poor backgrounds. Some of them had failed a lot of times and were no longer being accepted by other schools. It also accommodated pupils older than the average age for their grade. It currently has only 217 pupils.