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Every day is a chance to effect change

- By Wits University

There could have been no better theme to share with teachers, the agents of change, than that which talks about leadership, which sometimes requires steering people into unfamiliar terrain.

A special group of teachers congregated in the Great Hall for an event which was the culmination of their hard work. In 2009, Wits enrolled a cohort of teachers who had been in the education system for years, for studies in the Bachelor of Education programme. The move to develop teachers in that province was prompted by the vision of the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, who at the time was the MEC for Education in Limpopo.

The teachers made extraordinary sacrifices to start afresh and pursue full-time studies in education away from their children and partners. A move which demanded personal change so that they may drive systematic change in the province notorious for maladministration and late book deliveries to schools. 

On Thursday, 3 April 2014 the last group of Limpopo teachers graduated at the Faculty of Humanities graduation ceremony.

Guest speaker Lebogang Ramafoko, CEO of the Soul City Health and Development Communications Institute, delivered a poignant message.

Parallels could be drawn from her own personal journey starting as a child raised by a father with no academic qualifications who, however, understood the value of education – a father who understood the importance of educating a girl-child and dutifully read to her until when it was her turn to read to him. It was the vision of her father which saw her graduate with a Bachelors Degree in Education from Wits University in 1993.

One imagines the joy he must have felt, when his last name was called out on that day and his daughter ascending to the stage to reap the fruits of their hard work, thus changing her course forever.

Having walked difficult roads herself as a leader of youth organisations, Ramofoko offered advice on the road ahead drawing on the book Leadership on the line by Marty Linsky and Ronald A. Heifetz.

“To lead is to live dangerously because when leadership counts, when you lead people through difficult change, you challenge what people hold dear – with nothing more to offer perhaps than a possibility.”

“Moreover, leadership often means exceeding the authority you are given to tackle the challenge at hand. People push back when you disturb the personal and institutional equilibrium they know. And people resist in all kinds of creative and unexpected ways that can get you taken out of the game: pushed aside, undermined, or eliminated.”

When this happens, the real test is not to “choose the easy route, live cautiously or be self-absorbed,” she said.

Listen to Ramafoko’sand about her.