FEEL GOOD | I'm having a great time, says Ocean View man who started teaching in his 60s

2020-02-22 06:58
Abdurahiem de Klerk is enjoying being a teacher.

Abdurahiem de Klerk is enjoying being a teacher. (Supplied)

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"It is hectic," says Abdurahiem de Klerk, 61, weeks after qualifying as a teacher and taking up a post at a primary school in Cape Town.

In December, News24 spoke to the former Ocean View school caretaker as he was applying for a teaching post after graduating from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

READ | 'It was tough!' 61-year-old's journey from drugs to teaching diploma, and the cyclists who got him over the first hill

His wife, Sageda whom he calls his jewel, proudly kept the Facebook #ImStaying group updated on her husband's search for a teaching post after his late-life qualification.

Now in his first year as a teacher of seven subjects to 44 keen faces at Marine Primary in Ocean View, De Klerk's only disappointment is that he did not do it sooner.

He said the work was "hard" but "enjoyable" - not least because he manages so many different personalities every day.

'I am just sad, disappointed, that I did not start this as a career earlier'

De Klerk told News24 his special talent for bringing abstract concepts to life was already paying dividends, with children quickly grasping how a flow chart works in one of their latest topics.

This thanks to him asking them to put their R5 coins, collected for civvies day, into a pile and asking them to calculate their input and output.

"I am just sad, disappointed that I did not start this as a career earlier," he said wistfully.

On his first day as a teacher, after a circuitous route which included being a bricklayer and school caretaker, the former addict said he had asked the children one question: "Anybody who is not here to learn, please put up your hand." 

He was pleased to see that there were no hands in the air and proceeded to tell them his one rule - no rudeness.

De Klerk said naughtiness came with the territory for young children, but he insisted on manners. 

He does not believe in shouting at the children because he does not know what they have experienced at home - and he does not think shouting helps anyway. 

Although his to-do list now includes marking and lesson preparation, he still cycles and swims. 

De Klerk is currently on a fundraising drive to get a group of underprivileged children from the Fresh Start Cycling Club, which he started in the area, to a junior "Tour de France" in the Netherlands in July this year. 

The club was formed after De Klerk's own breakthrough from addiction while riding a bicycle he had bought instead of drugs.

De Klerk told News24 that while struggling up a hill while on one of his first rides, the support he had received from fellow cyclists was life changing. 

He wants the children in the area to aspire to things other than gangs, alcohol, or drugs so that they do not go down the same path as he did.

"I am having a great time," said De Klerk.

Read more on:    cape town  |  education  |  feel good
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