One man’s journey from gardener to teacher
A man sits alone on a park bench‚ slouched forward with elbows resting on his thighs. The caption on the poster reads: “My time will come.”
That poster kept Koos Bhuda‚ 36‚ motivated for more than a decade as he sacrificed time with his wife‚ their three children‚ family and friends to continue his part-time studies while working as a gardener.
“The way I view that picture is — it is some people who are looking for employment and they were sitting on the bench. The other people who were also on the bench‚ they took them one by one and that guy is the only one left there‚ but that guy did not give up‚” he said.
from gardener to teacher
Bhuda recently started working as a substitute teacher at the Marhagi Secondary School in Verena‚ Mpumalanga‚ after completing his Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at Unisa. He teaches Ndebele to Grade 10 and 11 pupils.
Bhuda lives in KwaMhlanga‚ Mpumalanga‚ around 75 km north-east of Pretoria. For six days a week, he woke up around 4.15 am to catch a bus to Pretoria where he worked from 7 am to 3 pm and arrived home around 6.30 pm. Then he set time aside for his family and his studies.
“At night when they go to sleep‚ then I go and study until maybe 1 or 2 am. Then I get up and go to work again.”
He matriculated in 1998 as the top student at Buhlebesizwe Secondary School in KwaMhlanga with distinctions in history and Ndebele.
Bhuda completed a course in computer literacy in 2000 at the Academy of Business and Computer Studies and a course in bookkeeping in 2001 at Pinnacle Business College. But he struggled to find employment and started working as a construction worker in 2002 before becoming a gardener in 2003.
gardener to teacher
Four years later he enrolled for a three-year diploma in human resource management at Unisa‚ but only graduated in 2013. Bhuda said it took so long‚ because he partly funded his own studies with the help of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
“Sometimes I did not have money to register.”
He kept applying for jobs‚ but with no luck and decided to continue studying to differentiate himself. In 2016 he enrolled for the PGCE and in May officially became a teacher. He plans to enrol for an honors degree in Ndebele at Unisa next year.
His advice to part-time students is: “It is possible if you just put in effort and hard work. Everything is possible.”