From the moment I met Akani I knew he had been called to become a teacher. What a well-spoken, well-mannered, open-minded, inquisitive and enthusiastic person. Something great is waiting for him. It is very obvious.

 

Akani from Gorono Village, Giyani in Limpopo Province attended Kayanene Primary School, located in his home village. This school was part of the Rally to READ project in 2001, and received classroom libraries as part of the project.

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For Akani the classroom libraries opened up a new world.

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Nathalie Boucry Photography | READ | Akani 009

During his spare time, he would devour the books. He still remembers that in the first year of the project he was the lead actor in a drama based on a READ project book. And in 2002 he won first prize in a storytelling competition based on “Wanjiro and the Giant” authored by Barbara N Herbert, “I love Wanjiro and the Giant”. In a Read Across Curriculum university module this year, Akani shared the “Wanjiro and the Giant” story with his university classmates.

“They all laughed and enjoyed my favourite story,” Akani said.

Akani passed his matric in 2007 with University endorsement and is currently a second-year student at the University of Pretoria. He’s studying towards a Bachelor of Education (FET) with specialisation in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

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In a letter to READ his passion for reading, for teaching and for life shines through:

“This is my second year in BEd FET (Natural Sciences) with specialisations in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

I found myself falling in love with the teaching profession and I believe that the great educational exposure I had from READ made me realise my passion. I’m enjoying teaching and I’m pressing on to finish my studies because I know I carry teaching on my shoulders to ensure that all South Africans receive a better education.

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I remember the day I took the final decision to enroll permanently for teaching. It took resilience and courage – I looked at my passion, strengths and not weaknesses. I have learnt that real fulfillment is not about achieving my short-term goals, but that, working for others will be beneficial to my society, South Africa and the world as a whole.

That is what Nelson Mandela meant when he said, “We should shine our light and encourage others to do the same”.

I recently delivered a speech at the Career Guidance Festival held on Nelson Mandela Day, attended by the Higher Education and Training Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, Director General, Prof. Mary Metcalfe, Public Services and Administration Minister, Richard Baloyi, Umalusi CEO, Members of the Parliament, Limpopo Education MEC. It was such a great honour for me to deliver the speech. I received a bursary from Limpopo Department of Education as from next year!

I also received an award as the best Scholarly Engaged Participant at the Research Indaba of the University of Pretoria on the 17th of September. My lecturers advised me that I should write a research paper because of my critical thinking ability.

I finished the 56km Two Oceans Ultra Marathon this year in personal best time of 05:46:55 and received a bronze medal. And it was so nice being in Cape Town.

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I run because it keeps me resilient and also helps with my studies.”

As a teacher-to-be Akani feels it is his responsibility to ensure that he creates an environment that will allow his learners to discover the joy of reading. “Reading is a wonderful teacher. It enhances language, communication and listening skills and helps learners to see the connection between what they learn at school and the real world. READ has given me a wonderful teacher, the teacher who helps me unlock the full meaning of the words I read every day.”

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This is one of six documentaries I was commissioned to photograph for the latest annual report of the READ Educational Trust. Each of these person’s life was touched by READ and their dedication to help people with a hunger for learning, a desire to better their own and their children’s lives through education. These documentaries are witness to the cause.

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