|3 Nov 2022
|2020 Finalists Global Teacher Prize
Mokhudu faced many childhood challenges on the road to achieving her own education. Her school was seven or eight kilometres away from home, and getting there involved crossing a river; she often had no shoes and used a rice sack as a school bag. At school, the pupils sat on the floor writing on slate, or on the ground outside. Getting pregnant at the age of 15 due to peer pressure was hard to deal with and led to a year off school. The following year, with help from her mother, Mokhudu returned to school and excelled in her exams, becoming the top student in both her classes. However, due to a lack of financial support, she also had to take on various jobs to support herself. Undertaking domestic work at the age of 19 to fund her studies persuaded her parents how serious she was, and eventually she was able to go to a technical college to study child care, followed by Soweto College of Education for a teaching qualification.
More obstacles followed. It took Mokhudu five years to get a job as a teacher because South Africa had so many qualified teachers looking for work at the time. As the eldest person in the family able to work, she had to take care of her siblings by working as a street vendor. When she finally got a teaching post it was 75 kilometres from the family’s home, but when Mokhudu was finally able to move and live near the school, the time and money she saved allowed her to be productive for the first time.
While Mokhudu herself had to learn without much technological help, she has ensured that the opposite is true for her own students. Starting with the use of a single cellphone for Internet access in class, she has obtained laptops from the ISPA Super Teacher awards, Microsoft, and the South African government – all by showcasing her students’ activities. She has now introduced her students to Coding Week by using Minecraft as an introduction, and students have also started talking with learners from other countries through the Microsoft Educator Platform and mystery Skypes.
In 2009, Mokhudu was the runner-up in the ISPA Super Teacher prize for ICT Integration in the classroom. In 2015 she was crowned Provincial winner of the National Teaching Award (Technology Enhanced Teaching category), and she has also been recognized as one of the 50 Inspiring Women in Tech for South Africa. If she wins the Global Teacher Prize, she will aim to develop a centre where young people can learn entrepreneurial skills and robotics – catching up with their peers across the world and creating global citizens.