It was a humble aptitude test – provided to all learners within the class as a means to ascertain which direction they should take for their future careers – which changed the lives of hundreds of learner’s lives’ for the better.
The year was 1980 and a young Jabulani Ndlovu identified three professions his future self could pursue: either a journalist, a medical doctor or a teacher.
“I wanted to make an impact in the community and also to develop children by arming them with information. This is what ultimately made me become a teacher,” he explains.
Growing up in the Mpumalanga township called Sabie, this dedicated educator trained at Mgwenya College of Education in Kanyamazane between 1987 to 1989. Determined to inject young minds with the power of education, Jabulani began his first teaching job at Lindani Primary School between 1990 to 1998. Merely being in the classroom brought not just an immense amount of joy to the educator but fired his passion for teaching even more. It was a combination of these qualities, coupled by his undeniable leadership potential, which propelled him to a deputy principal position in 1998.
After five years at the school, Jabulani went on to become principal at Khulani Primary School in Kabokweni in Mpumalanga, a position he has held from 2004 to today.
“This is a passion. I love what I do,” he says.
It’s this love which makes Jabulani look at his job with rose-tinted glasses, easily glossing over the challenges which would otherwise be a hurdle to success.
Sitting at a desk and chair in a draughty passage-way due to the lack of an administration block in the school, this principal watches as his learners arrive for school with hunger and despair evident in their eyes.
With most of their parents unemployed and a handful coming from child-headed households, a life of strife is all these learners know. This ultimately impacts on their school work. With nothing but empty cupboards to greet them in the mornings, these learners were arriving at school hungry, only able to hear their grumbling stomachs over the teacher’s voice. Others simply had no energy to take part in the class discussions or activities, their tiny bodies slumped over at their desks.
“Many relied only on the food provided at school through the nutrition programme run by the Department of Basic Education,” Jabulani says.
Unlike Superman or Batman, not all heroes have herculean strength, a daredevil attitude or super human abilities like flying. Much like the Tiger Brands Foundation, which came to the rescue of not just the 1 055 learners enrolled at this school but thousands like them enrolled in non-fee paying schools across South Africa.
Through the Tiger Brands Foundation, learners from a total of 94 schools receive a daily hot breakfast from the comfort of their classrooms. Taken from a variety of Tiger Brands breakfast options which include oats, sorghum and maize based porridge products, these meals have perfectly complement the midday meal provided by the Department of Basic Education by ensuring that learners are fed throughout the school day. These meals not only provide satiety but much-needed nutrients too.
The results? Learners are eager to learn, there is more participation in the classroom and school results have improved dramatically.
“There has been a drastic change in the learner performance. They are now more punctual because of the breakfast. The community at large is also impacted positively,” Jabulani says.
“There are certain learners who are on chronic medication and when they come to school to receive this very important meal they are then able to take their medication on a full stomach. So this breakfast impacts positively on their health both in terms of good nutrition but it also allows them to take their medication.”
Armed with this weapon, Jabulani says he hopes to take the school to new heights.
“I want my school to be one of the best school in my area because despite the many challenges, the school results are very good. We are currently achieving more than 90% in results in terms of learner performance.
“When I look at my learners, I see future leaders. That makes me happy because I love children so much.”