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Limpopo principal’s commitment to her rural pupils wins her R145k prize

Livhalani Bridget Sinyosi, a principal at Dzata Secondary School in Nzhelele, Limpopo. Picture: Supplied.

Livhalani Bridget Sinyosi, a principal at Dzata Secondary School in Nzhelele, Limpopo. Picture: Supplied.

Published Dec 24, 2020

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Johannesburg - A Limpopo high school teacher’s commitment to her learners has paid off after she won the AU Continental Teacher Prize.

Livhalani Bridget Sinyosi, a principal at Dzata Secondary School in Nzhelele, was awarded $10 000(R145 912) for her work in ensuring that her learners succeed despite their challenges.

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She is the second recipient of the prize which was first awarded last year.

Sinyosi was nominated by the Department of Basic Education after coming out third in the South African National Teacher Award, Secondary Schools Leadership category last year.

Sinyosi, who found out through a Zoom online announcement that she was a winner, said: “I am a teacher and principal of 1 900 learners. What I do together with my staff is to work as a team. Because I am a principal in a rural school and most of my learners are from poor backgrounds, I incubate learners at school during exam times. I make sure I sleep at school together with my teachers and make a point to monitor those learners when they are studying, giving them food.

“What I do as a principal is have face-to-face interviews with my learners, making it a point that I have contact with each learner and know what their challenges are. I encourage my staff to profile these learners and do followups and have meetings with parents. What is key is to give learners quality teaching.”

Sinyosi, who said she was encouraged by her mother’s passion to be a teacher, has been in the education sector for more than 25 years and has worked as a teacher, deputy principal and now principal.

She holds a Master’s of education in curriculum studies and is studying for a PhD.

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She said adjusting to 2020 had been hard on her and her team.

“During this time of Covid-19, we used WhatsApp to teach but we have a challenge that most of our learners don’t have gadgets but we tried by all means to teach them.”

The school was now ready for next year’s challenges, she said. “What is key is to prepare. I've already prepared for 2021. As a school we have already given Grade 12 learners books. I had a meeting with parents of all progressed learners to prepare for 2021. The department must also support schools, teachers and learners. We must have gadgets because the challenge is that most of the parents can’t afford to buy gadgets and we have to do online learning.”

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Sinyosi plans to buy school uniforms for some of her learners and invest the rest of the prize money.

The Star

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