MEC visit to Rhodes for the signing of the Matthew Goniwe Scholarship contracts
On 14 June 2018, Rhodes Education students signed their Matthew Goniwe Scholarship contracts with the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) of the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE), Mr M Makupula. The scholarship is the ECDoE’s response to the aging Foundation Phase teacher cohort in the province. According to the MEC, “in the next 10 years, the province will see at least 65-70% of Foundation Phase teachers retire and leave the profession.”
Introducing the event, the Education Department Head of Department, Professor E Mgqwashu, encouraged students to read up on who Matthew Goniwe was, what he stood for, and how his life embodied the principles and values enshrined in the scholarship named after him. “Very briefly, Mr Goniwe was a teacher, a school principal, community leader, political activist and member of the United Democratic Front we all joined as youngsters when the African National Congress, Pan Africanist Congress and South African Communist Party were banned. He is one of the ‘Cradock Four’ murdered by the South African security forces in the Eastern Cape in 1985”, said Professor Mgqwashu.
During his speech, the MEC added further details on Matthew Goniwe’s life, pointing out that he was a mathematics teacher who chose to teach at 3 different schools in the Transkei, a former homeland. Given his expertise, Mr Goniwe had every opportunity to teach in city schools, but chose rural and marginalised communities to apply his trade. “He would buy a one train ticket to travel each weekend to visit parents of the children he taught mathematics. He would discuss with the parents what their children struggled in, and how they could be supported”, added the MEC. This was despite the opportunities open to him in urban and city schools. In the spirit of keeping this commitment, the Matthew Goniwe Scholarship requires students to teach in a rural school the first four years after graduating. This comes with an allowance that teachers in urban areas do not receive. The ECDoE will give these teachers a choice to stay or find schools of their own preference after the four-year period.
The Dean of Education, Professor D Wilmot, acknowledged the wonderful way in which the scholarships honoured Matthew Goniwe’s legacy to education. She challenged the recipients of the scholarship to think about how they would like to be remembered as educators.
Speaking on behalf of students, Mr Zanoxolo Kale (PGCE) and Ms Nolubabalo Manyati (BEdFP) expressed gratitude for being the first generation of students at Rhodes University to be recipients of a scholarship named after one of the selfless individuals our history has produced. They committed to keeping Matthew Goniwe’s memory alive, and thanked the MEC on behalf of current and future recipients of the scholarship.
Source: Text and Photographs: RU Education Department and Faculty