The longest serving teacher, Gogo Nonsikelelo Qwelane has passed away at the age of 100.
Qwelani, a recipient of the Presidential order of the Baobab in Bronze, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to education in South Africa was an inspiration and role model to the young and old.
In 2018, Gogo Qwelane received the MEC’s Special Award from the Mpumalanga Department of Education for her commitment and dedication to teaching. She was a teacher for more than 79 years.
She was born in 1920 at Engcobo in the Eastern Cape, she trained as a teacher and started teaching at the age of 19 in her home province. She also taught in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces.
Qwelane’s love for teaching was complemented by her unending quest to learn and acquire knowledge. Her eagerness to improve her skills and knowledge saw her obtain an MA degree from the University of South Africa (Unisa) at the age of 60. Her colleagues described her as “a walking geography textbook.”
In her long teaching career, she had taught and mentored various community leaders including the late Former Chief Minister of the former Kangwane Government, Dr Enos Mabuza. Apart from her career, Gogo Qwelane also participated in other community organisations such as the Informal Women’s Forum.
According to the Education department, after retirement from the teaching service in the public sector, Gogo Qwelane did not stop teaching. She decided to offer her teaching services at private schools such as Metropolitan International College in White River where she taught her favourite subject Geography to Grade 12 learners. Her pupils consistently achieved good results.
“My job as a teacher has never been about money, but about the love of education; it is my calling and as long as I can still teach and has the energy, l will continue to teach,” she once said. The MEC, Bonakele Majuba remembered her with these words:
“The contribution that Gogo Qwelane has made in the teaching profession is unmatched. She was a heroine and a true embodiment of a conduit for knowledge and values as she did not only teach the curriculum as prescribed but also played the role of a parent to her learners very well.
We wish her family all the strength they need right now as we express our sincere condolences to them and all her loved ones. May her soul rest in peace.”
Gogo Qwelani will be laid to rest on Thursday, July 29 in White River.