Gogo still teaching at 91

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Passionate, inspiring and thirsty for knowledge, Nontsikelelo Qwelane is SA’s oldest teacher  – and she’s pretty strict too!

She stops to have a quick word with the matrics passing her classroom and, waving a piece of chalk about, explains something to one of them. She’s wearing a smart purple skirt and matching top and her hair is fastened in a ponytail.

Then she spots us walking over to greet her.

“I’m a busy woman,” she says firmly. “I want to know why you’re late. I don’t tolerate this kind of behaviour.”

And when Nontsikelelo Qwelane speaks you listen. After all, at 91 this friendly but strict educator is South Africa’s oldest full-time teacher.

Nontsikelelo, or Gogo as the learners and teachers at the Metropolitan College in White River call her, has been teaching since 1940. The private school, in the business centre of White River in Mpumalanga, specialises in quality education for children who struggled at government schools.

Gogo says she’s lived in the Eastern and Western Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga and has taught every grade. In the past few years she’s been teaching matric geography.

Read more in Joshua Carstens’ article in YOU 23 February 2012.

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