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Singing KZN teacher scoops national Excellence in Secondary School Teaching award

KZN teacher Usiphatheleni Khanyile with KwaZulu-Natal Education Department head of department Nkosinathi Ngcobo.

Usiphatheleni Khanyile, 34, from Sibusisiwe Comp Tech High School, seen here with KwaZulu-Natal Education Department head of department Nkosinathi Ngcobo, won the Excellence in Secondary School Teaching award at the 23rd National Teaching Awards last week. Picture: Supplied.

Published Oct 9, 2023

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Durban - A Geography teacher from Sibusisiwe Comp Tech High School in Umbumbulu won the Excellence in Secondary School Teaching award at the National Teaching Awards last week.

The 23rd National Teaching Awards was held in Pretoria on World Teachers’ Day last Thursday.

Usiphatheleni Khanyile, 34, who teaches Grades 10 to 12, said: “I was sceptical of winning the national award because when it comes to provinces like the Western Cape and Gauteng, those are well known for having people who excel, so it’s amazing.”

Describing the process that went into winning the award, Khanyile said he first competed against other teachers in the uMlazi District and won. He then went on to win the cluster of coastal districts before winning the KZN title and going on to the represent the province at the national awards.

In addition to receiving a certificate and a trophy, Khanyile walked away with several prizes including R20 000 in cash from Via Africa, R10 000 in cash from USAid; a laptop, cellphone, and R1 000 once-off data from the Vodacom Foundation.

After bagging the national award last week, Khanyile said: “I went to the school and showed my principal the award, the trophy and the certificate that is signed by the Minister of Education Angie Motshekga.”

Khanyile, who has a 100% pass rate with some distinctions, advised educators to be creative.

“I teach through music. I go to the studio and professionally record songs for each and every topic that I am teaching because geography can be seen as a boring subject,” he said.

He said his Geowemah songs are sponsored by the Trevor Noah Foundation and comprise different genres to accommodate all pupils. These are available not only to pupils in South Africa but globally on Spotify and other platforms.

Gugu Qwabe walked away with the National Best Teacher award.

Speaking in a video shared before the awards by the KZN Education Department, Qwabe from Mandla Mthethwa School of Excellence in Umkhanyakude District, said she had enjoyed taking part in the awards.

“I entered for the National Teacher awards under the National Best Teacher category and it’s been amazing … I met new people and I learnt a lot from the experience.”

Other teachers from the province also received awards in other categories.

Samkelo Ntuli received the Excellence in Teaching Mathematics award, while Fiona Tooray was awarded the Excellence in Primary School Leadership award and Vikani Masinga obtained the Excellence in Secondary School Leadership award.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Motshekga said she was proud of the award winners and admired the dedication, love and commitment they displayed.

Usiphatheleni Khanyile, 34, from Sibusisiwe Comp Tech High School in Umbumbulu south of Durban won the Excellence in Secondary School Teaching award at the 23rd National Teaching Awards was held in Pretoria on World Teachers' Day, Thursday, 5 October. Picture: Supplied.

KZN teacher Samkelo Ntuli received the Excellence in Teaching Mathematics(FET) award at the 23rd National Teaching Awards was held in Pretoria on World Teachers' Day, Thursday, 5 October. Picture: Supplied.

KZN teacher Gugu Quabe walked away with the National Best Teacher award at the 23rd National Teaching Awards was held in Pretoria on World Teachers' Day, Thursday, 5 October. Picture: Supplied.

Fiona Tooray was awarded the Excellence in Primary School Leadership award at the 23rd National Teaching Awards was held in Pretoria on World Teachers' Day, Thursday, 5 October. Picture: Supplied.