A Nyanga teacher who left a deep impression on her pupils was honoured by pupils she taught when they were in Standard 3 (Grade 5) in 1973.
Nearly 50 years later, Noluntu Mda who taught them at Hlengisa Primary School, was honoured for her clear and passionate teaching and the unbreakable bonds she formed with her pupils.
On Sunday November 6, the retired teacher’s efforts to engage, capture and mould the imagination of all pupils, even of those who were not in her class, were celebrated.
As her former charges spoke highly of her at her Nyanga home, some cried as they thanked her and her family for the role they had played in their lives.
A tearful Phathiswa Kula remembered how Ms Mda used to teach them valuable life lessons.
“She was tiny and clean but very strict to us. She formed girl guides and taught us responsibility, how to look after ourselves and many other life lessons. We would not be here if she was not our teacher. We are confident to speak in public about her and her good work. That is why we sat down and remembered that we are today professionals because she housed and groomed us. We have families today because she moulded us,” said Ms Kula, who is a social worker.
Another former pupil, Nomzamo Ngqulana, said Ms Mda shaped not only them but the community of Nyanga. “She was inspirational to all. Our relationship grew from being her pupil to being my mother. She later took my family under her arm. As girls at the time, we started dating very late because she taught us that boys were not better than education.
“She became a trusted somebody by our families. Under her we learnt to look after ourselves. We learned responsibility, discipline and everything. I am happy we have a point of reference,” she said.
Even her family spoke highly of her, among them her older sister Phumla Mda-Sithole who joked that even though she was the youngest daughter in the family, she had bullied them.
However, she emphasised, “My sister is the most caring individual. She is the wisest in the family but too strict. She is the mother figure. She cares for people. We always believe that she took the wrong profession.She was supposed to be a social worker that she is still today,” Ms Mda-Sithole said.
Ms Mda was grateful for the praise heaped on her and wished that today’s generation would learn more from their parents and teachers. “If teaching is not engaging and not developing poor children, it is not education,” she said.
“I grew up with seven siblings with a very strict mother who wanted nothing for us but education. Remember, she was not educated but she wanted education for her children. I took everything from her. I am glad that I had a great impact on many of my children’s lives. These are the results,” she said.
“I wish today’s children could listen to their parents. My mother was so instrumental in my being, my siblings’ being. I wish the younger generation can appreciate their parents. But I am glad that my work is honoured by my own children that I taught years ago. They made my day. From now on, no one will talk about my funeral,” she added.
Vukani was told afterwards that she still conducts after-school classes for young people.