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Breaking Chains: Empowering Women Through Education With The Love Trust

by Tia

Violence against women is not acceptable. Although society at times has been numbed to it, please read it again. Violence against women is not acceptable. Anduntil this fact is universally recognised, global organisations such as The United Nations will not stop lobbying for equal rights for women everywhere.

25 November is annually observed as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The international community has sent out a strong message that gender based violence will not be tolerated by adopting this declaration. Women will no longer be victims, and thanks to widespread campaigns like the #MeToo movement, we now know that we can become our own heroes instead.

Empowering women: Education’s role in marginalised communities

While access to education is a human right, in many marginalised communities it’s seen as a luxury fit for those who have been born to better circumstances. In many poorer communities, the family unit is fractured and, in certain instances, totally broken. Unfortunately, in South Africa we even have many child-led households.

In such circumstances, there is no option for most but to forego any educational opportunities and instead seek opportunities to earn a living wage. The harsh reality is that as an unskilled worker, earning opportunities are not optimal and many are forced to work under difficult circumstances for minimum wage.

The Love Trust Teacher Training Centres: Nurturing agents for change

This is where organisations such as The Love Trust become vitally needed change-makers. With their vision to provide excellent quality Christian education propelling them forward, The Love Trust provides learning opportunities to some of the most vulnerable members of our society, women and children.

Founded in 2009, The Love Trust’s Nokuphila School provides schooling at their centre of excellence from a pre-primary level up until the end of Grade 7, and is extending their footprint into high-school grades with the introduction of their first year of Grade 8 learners in 2024.

The Nokuphila Teacher Training Academy (NTTA) trains and develops accredited (NQF) Level 4 and Level 5 Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers qualified to teach Grade 000 and Grade R respectively.

Further to the initial training given, the NTTA extends resources and hands-on curriculum aids to the ECD students currently enrolled in their academy and partnered training centres around the country. As a collaborative effort, the NTTA and Affiliated Teacher Training Centres (ATTC) throughout the country have successfully graduated over 837 ECD teachers, positively impacting approximately 20,000 children daily.

NTTA Training Room

Profiles of empowerment: Three women, three journeys

From struggle to strength: Kabelo Mashalane’s story

Kabelo Mashalane is a 39 year old woman who greatly believes in women uplifting one another. While completing her training has been challenging at times, she has taken solace in the experience itself saying that learning more about children and their development is gratifying.

Mashalane ultimately believes this opportunity has made her a better mom and teacher as she can easily identify when a child is battling and knows how to correctly approach them. She is volunteering at early childhood daycare centres to gain experience and has become more confident in her abilities through this process. By gaining specialist skills, she has found the freedom to seek independence and believe in her own capabilities to provide for her family.

Mashalane believes it’s vital for women to hold each other up through support groups and acknowledge their strength through unity.

Keitumetsi Molakoane’s aim to become a community catalyst for change

Keitumetsi Molakoane is a 34 year old graduate of The Love Trust teacher training programme who says that she gets great joy out of watching the innocent play that young children perform. With a passion for working in the ECD arena, Molakoane is certain she has found her calling in life and says she is now able to not only help learners on the playground but she can also make a difference in the lives of her loved ones if she notices any areas of concern with their children.

Aware of the importance of teaching young children about diversity and inclusivity from a young age, Molakoane is a believer in mentorship programmes and hopes to create greater awareness in her local community about the importance of quality education from the start.

She believes that a solid educational foundation starts at the ECD level, with a child’s first glimpse at learning through play. Molakoane understands the financial constraints getting a quality education involves and hopes to assist community members with applying for educational grants, as well as, getting access to educational intervention therapies such as Occupational Therapy (OT) or speech therapy.

Sindiswa Sophazi is empowering future generations

Sindiswa Sophazi is a 43 year old woman who studied through The Love Trust’s TTC between 2021-2023, and is currently working as a trainer for Singakwenza. At Singakwenza their programme focuses on training practitioners on-site at crèches and daycare centres, enabling them to become better facilitators.

Sophazi is personally passionate about getting more ECD practitioners properly upskilled to more effectively support the children under their care. She says the training opportunity she was provided with gave her great leverage for personal growth, which led her to her current employment, which she calls ‘life changing’.

While she is aware that the journey to becoming a qualified teacher can be daunting, she believes that newly trained ECD teachers should form their own networking support groups. Sophazi strongly advocates for women’s rights and sees education as our best tool to increase awareness around the importance of gender equality saying, “If we are able to impart this knowledge from a young age, it will ultimately lead to the societal changes we desperately need to make violence against women less acceptable.”

A crucial step in combating gender-based violence

It’s plain to see that as far as education goes, no time is ever lost. We can educate anyone, at any point in their lives, for any length of time, and the end result will be resoundingly positive.

Let’s all get behind gender-equality ahead of this commemorative day and create equal footing for all the mothers, sisters and daughters of today and tomorrow’s generation and enable them to seek more for themselves.  

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