March 2021.

Natasha van Wyk, Grade R teacher at Roodepan Primary School, Kimberley, has graduated with a Teaching Diploma from North West University, with the support and funding from Droogfontein Solar Power, in partnership with the Department of Education. This mother of five, has walked an extraordinary road to achieve her Diploma and has a beautiful story to tell.

After unsuccessfully securing a bursary for many years, Natasha’s luck finally changed. She was able to commence her Diploma studies, during 2019, and pushed through, despite the challenges thrown her way during the health pandemic last year. Now, having successfully graduated, her view of teaching has expanded and grown and so have her prospects.

“I know now for sure that teaching is my passion – and with this qualification I am better equipped to face any challenge with the knowledge of how to tackle it sufficiently. I am also able to approach things in an age-appropriate manner, which gets me better results,” said Natasha van Wyk.

After having previously worked with very young children for many years, she discovered, through her training and studies, her compassion and aptitude for teaching children with special needs.

“The one thing that has really stood out for me during my studies, is learning how to work with children with special needs and disabilities. Before I learned these skills, I never thought I was cut out to work with these groups of children. It’s something I now view as a special interest of mine, which is completely unexpected,” added Natasha.
Natasha is part of the latest cohort of graduates that have benefited from Droogfontein Solar Power’s education development programme, which has benefited 60 Grade R practitioners since 2015.

“Our programme will continue this year, with a group of Early Childhood Development practitioners studying towards a teaching Diploma, expected to graduate by 2022. The one difference is that our new intake, for 2022 studies, will specifically benefit ECD centre-based practitioners instead of practitioners teaching Grade R at school,” explained Zuki Ndlela, Economic Development Officer for Droogfontein Solar Power.

It is remarkable that as a mother of five and a full-time employee, Natasha successfully graduated, in addition to having not completed her Matric. She now feels better equipped to cope with classroom challenges, which is also helped by her level of maturity and vast experience of raising children.

“From my point of view, I’ve learned so many new things through this Diploma, such as how to set up an organised and stimulating classroom; make my own learner resources; work with learners with special needs; and of course how to manage different groups of children, which is something that I didn’t understand fully before I studied formally,” concluded Natasha.