Young leader ready to spread his wings

Copy of Thabiso Mona (2)

I had the privilege of being accepted to train for my initial teacher education in the Global Teachers Institute’s Future Leaders Programme in 2017 at the Jane Furse Education hub in Limpopo. Jane Furse is very rural, and when hearing names like “Future Leaders”, one can be quick to think that it is one of those fancy names that sound good to the ear. I guess that was also my attitude.

We had the organisation’s leaders address us during the orientation camp, and they were not being political. They painted a picture of the professional sector I was entering and were genuine world leaders who saw what I could become before reading any UNISA book. I was ready to become part of the story in rewriting the future of education in South Africa.

At GTI, I never really saw myself as just an “intern”. I felt like a real Future Leader, an agent of change in the making. I believed that GTI wasn’t just preparing me for a faraway future. Sibusiso Sibeko, now an alumnus of the GTI Future Leaders Programme, taught me how to use education to have a positive influence. He taught me how to be empathetic towards my learners and how to embrace change within the school environment.

Tania Ham, my regional schools’ coordinator, taught me about attitude. She said, “You are one of the best in what you do. It seems like you are the only one who doesn’t believe it”. One year after joining GTI, Marcia Ndlovu taught me about mastery and excellence. I was blessed because she taught English. She helped me to improve my writing skills.

At GTI, I knew that I was at home. I was fed, equipped and loved. GTI embraced me during the pandemic and helped me through depression. Hassiena Marriot, the Head of Education, loved me as her own and provided me with all the support I needed to graduate.

Now I can walk and talk, not because I’ve learned everything there is to know, but because what I’ve learned deserves to be heard. I was trained for a time like this, and I am GTI’s gift to South Africa. I am grateful for the financial support to pay for my university fees, books and the stipend that has helped me look after myself and my two handsome boys.