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School CP - October 2005

Corpun file 16843

The Teacher, Johannesburg, 1 October 2005

A career with a calling

By Thabo Mohlala


Mavis Shongwe: banning corporal punishment has disempowered teachers
Mavis Shongwe: "I always regarded teaching as my calling." Photograph: Oupa Nkosi)

"I love teaching and I do not think I can swap it for any profession, however well it pays," says Mavis Shongwe. After a career in teaching spanning 30 years, she is currently deputy principal at Emmangweni Primary School in Tembisa in Gauteng, where she has been teaching since 1979.

Born in Alice in the former Transkei 54 years ago, Shongwe did her teacher training at Engcobo in Idutywa where she obtained her primary teacher's certificate. She moved with her family to Johannesburg in 1965.

"I have always regarded teaching as my calling. I am the only one in my family who has chosen to do it. At the time there were very limited choices for black people; it was either you do teaching or nursing. And of course, I chose the former," says Shongwe.


While Shongwe praises the new curriculum, she also points out the consequences of too much paper work. "The administrative tasks reduces the amount of contact time with learners," she says. "I am all for outcomes-based education, but it demands a lot of our time."

She also feels that banning corporal punishment has disempowered teachers. "Today's kids lack discipline and sometimes just talking to them is not enough. I feel we should still be allowed to use the stick, although under regulated circumstances. What should not be allowed is its excessive use."


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