Soweto businessman helps needy pupils

2016-01-21 08:47
Soweto businessman David Matojane. (News24)

Soweto businessman David Matojane. (News24)

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Johannesburg - When a pupil asked David Matojane for R20 after class one afternoon, he found it inappropriate and reprimanded the girl.

When the pupil at Madibane High School in Diepkloof, Soweto, explained why, he was not prepared for the answer he got.

She said she and her family had gone to bed hungry and although she had received food at school, she needed the money so her family would have something to eat later.

This was one of many stories Matojane had heard.

Matojane, a business owner, is a former pupil at the school. He volunteered to fill in when the Grade 12s started the year with no life orientation teacher two years ago.

He said his background in business and being a director and chief director in government helped him teach the subject, along with what was in the curriculum.

"I had to dedicate time to it because I am self-employed. At the time when they didn't have a teacher I had to come every day, so it was more challenging. But now because the teacher is there, I come on certain days."

Matojane also manages the school's finances and provides career guidance. He helps pupils apply to universities and colleges and write motivational letters for bursaries.

"We also try to organise excursions for them, because I have a tourism company. So sometimes I take them using my bus at no charge, and let them go there so that they can be exposed to the careers that they are looking for."

Matojane attended Madibane High School in 1978, along with Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane.

The school was regarded as one of Soweto's best during the apartheid era. Its alumni include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Judge Nkola Motata, and ANC stalwart and activist Motlalepula Chabaku.

Nkosi-Malobane was at the school on Wednesday to reward teachers for helping to pull the matric pass rate up from 62% in 2014 to 94% in 2015.

One of the reasons why Matojane was so dedicated to the school was because he wanted to see it regain its former glory.

"This was one of the top schools in Diepkloof. It also excelled in academics, sports and cultural activities.

"We had an English teacher who told us that every day, make sure you learn at least one word. So we had to keep a dictionary and a notebook and whenever you came across her, she would ask you, which word have you learnt? That contributed to our language proficiency."

Today the school was understaffed and had poor infrastructure. Pupils came from poor families and had low morale.

"A girl came to me after school and said 'can you give me R20?', and I said to her 'I don't give girls R20 otherwise I'll be a sugar daddy'.

"But I could see from her face that she was serious and I sat down and asked her 'why actually?' And she said 'we slept on an empty stomach but I'm better off because I had food at school, but if I have a R20 I can buy food for them'.

"That's the type of a learner that you find here," he said.

What encouraged him was the close bond pupils had with their teachers. He recounted how one boy’s mother, a domestic worker, was retrenched. The boy went to live with boys in his soccer academy, but could not study there.

“One teacher picked up that his grades were going down and he was also late coming to school. So that was discussed among the staff and one former teacher decided to take that boy to stay with him, and the boy got a bachelor's pass.

"That shows the closeness between the teachers and the learners."

Matojane said most pupils lacked either a mother or father figure in their lives. This was where the teachers stepped in.

Matojane was determined to bring pride back to the school.

"I think the school will go to where it belongs," he said.

Read more on:    johannnesburg  |  good news  |  education

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