Mr BA Mdluli is a passionate, dedicated teacher. Watching this man in action as he masterfully conducts his lessons, it would be reasonable to think that he has been king of his classroom for years – even decades.
But this is not the case; in fact, this is only Mr Mdluli’s third year of teaching. For almost thirty years he managed his brother’s bottle store. So what would make a man completely change his career so late in life? A family who believes in his potential to achieve.
Working in retail is a respectable job, and for many years it offered enough of a livelihood for the Mdluli family. However, there was no opportunity for advancement or provision for retirement.
Mdluli wanted a more secure future so that he could provide for his family. But even more importantly, he wanted to set a good example for his three daughters (the Three Mosquitoes, as he calls them).
While the decision to change careers may have come as a surprise to some people, his choice of career did not. After all, he had helped his wife a great deal when she was training to become a teacher, and he was always the first person the local school children went to for help.
His friends did think it was funny, though, when he said he wanted to work with primary school children and not high school. “You can’t teach the small ones,” they laughed. “They will be scared of you!”
But Mdluli was adamant. He knew what he wanted to achieve and nothing was going to stand in his way.
In 2006 he registered to study part-time through UKZN and for the next three years he committed himself to changing his future, working during the week and attending classes every Saturday. While he put in the hard work, it was the inspiration, love and support of his wife that kept him going.
In 2009 Mdluli qualified with a National Professional Diploma in Education. “The graduation ceremony was very special,” says Mdluli. “It meant a lot.” But that was not the end of the journey – it took another four years to find a job as a teacher.
In April 2013 Mdluli finally took his first step into his very own classroom as a welcome addition to the academic staff of Bonisanani Primary School, Ntuzuma, KZN. Now he teaches Grade 5 English, Grade 6 NS and Technology, and Grade 7 NS, and he loves every moment of it.
For him the best part of teaching is engaging with the learners. “You fall in love with them,” he says. “They are so lovely and so honest. Even if you shout, they don’t pull faces or hold grudges. They find it easy to forgive and forget, so they are always happy.”
So what does the future hold for Mr Mdluli? Since his focus is on becoming the best teacher he can be, he is currently doing his Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) which he will complete in 2016.
In the next few years he intends to open his own small retail business so that he will have something to retire to, and his decades of experience in business management will be put to good use.
Whatever the future holds, Mr Mdluli is convinced that it will be brighter and more promising than ever before.