BBL PARTICIPANT: Paulina Mogoshi, Relebogile Community Learning Centre, Masobe, Mpumalanga

In a Nutshell

Paulina Mogoshi, the founder and principal of Relebogile Community Learning Centre in Masobe has witnessed the effect of the BBL MyFuture way of thinking on students at the Centre.

She says…

Paulina Mogoshi

I am the principal of the Relebogile Community Learning Centre. I started the centre in 1996 because our area had a big poverty problem. It was clear that a widespread lack of skills was leading to a tragic situation in which many of our young people were sitting at home doing nothing, and living hand to mouth with no income.

In the early days, the teaching and learning happened under a tree. It is only in the last year that we were granted this space. We now have a venue which has greatly improved our situation, but life at the school is still very hard. We are overcrowded, which is a big problem – especially now that there is COVID. We have to do some lessons outside so as to keep to the rules about social distancing. On sunny days that is fine, but when it rains, the system doesn’t work. Even inside, the roof leaks.

I know that talking about the lack of infrastructure makes me sound gloomy, but I am not really.

All these problems make you strong and you learn from finding solutions. Over the years, I have come to see that if you want something, you must be prepared to fight for it, and work hard for it. Everything that is worth having requires hard work.

We have come so far already. I do worry that when I retire next year the fighter who started the fight will be gone, and that others may not feel as passionately about this cause as me, but I hope that I am wrong. This project needs to continue. It can’t stand or fall on the basis of one individual. It must be strong because of a broad community commitment to improvement.

At the learning centre we teach everything from level 1 basic literacy, all the way through to level 4, and then on into practical skills such as needlework, upholstery, gardening, and catering. We have all sorts of different types of people. Young people straight from school make up most of our learners, but we also have older mothers and fathers. We have people who are quite academic and others who are more practical in their talents. I always say to them: “If you don’t want books, you can work with your hands and still find success.” The hope is to create competent, employable people who can go out into the workforce and also start businesses. Ultimately, I hope that our students will be successful enough that they will become employers of others.

"...everything they can become, is because of God."

It is lovely when former students come back to us and tell us how they are now employed. Recently I met a person who had nothing when he started with us and now he is working as a chef in a local hotel. That made me so proud and happy.

Many of our students come from poor homes and because this is adult education, we don’t fall under the government school feeding schemes. It is hard to focus on studies with an empty stomach. We have a food garden here that is managed by the students and teachers in the gardening programme. We use what they grow to cook for the students, and we also sell the surplus to buy electricity and mielie meal. That works sometimes, but at other times animals get into our crops. We need fencing and, so far, we don’t have any. We need to find a solution to that problem. Nets too. The sun is very strong here and the birds are very energetic. We need nets to protect what we grow.

The SocioTech people first came here at the beginning of 2022 so it is still early days in our relationship, but I can already see that it will be a valuable collaboration. Charles (Bisimwa) taught the students about the MyFuture way of thinking. He explained that everything they do, and everything they can become, is because of God. Through Charles they came to know that if you are focused and determined, then God will show you what you can do. It sounds like a simple message, but when Charles gave them that first talk, I could see that it was getting through to the students. In the few months since we connected with SocioTech, I can already notice that absenteeism has reduced. Interest and enthusiasm in class has increased.

It is lovely to see these students so active and enthusiastic. The MyFuture training has created a ‘can-do’ spirit. They have taken up the concept that a problem is a challenge to be solved. They no longer wait for someone else. I hear them talking to each other and saying things like: “what can I do to make a plan and improve this situation?” I don’t want to overstate the success. It is not all of them and not all the time, but for a lot of students their attitude has improved significantly.

It is all about creating an understanding in the students that they have the power to make their own lives. Charles said to them: “your life is in your hands” and I think that many of them listened, heard and acted on his words.

I can see that the lessons they learnt through the MyFuture training are beginning to influence areas of their lives beyond the education centre. I know that some of those students have gone home, started food gardens and are already selling. I know that many of the students told family and friends about doing the MyFuture course, because people come to me and ask to be included in the next training session.

Like I said, this is just the start. And every little bit helps.

"Your life is in your hands."


Relebogile Learning Centre