Celebrating Women in SACAI and deconstructing the status quo of undermining women.
I am indebted to the role that women have played in my upbringing and career. Going down memory lane, a certain part of my life, I was raised by a single mother who prevailed against all odds to put food on the table and a roof over the heads of four kids. Years later my first job came under the leadership of woman who was brilliant in not only dealing with conflict but advocated a positive approach when faced with challenges. This approach is one of my cornerstones while under the stewardship of SACAI.
My passion for education germinated from women who believed I shared the same consolidated tunnel visions. They entrusted me to take these envisioned outcomes further with the learner/candidate in mind. The true servitude of educators is the provision of quality in the implementation of education services i.e., from teaching and learning all the way to assessments, examinations, and certification where necessary.
Over the last couple of years, SACAI has grown in leaps and bounds through the support received from our sponsor and a dexterous council led by an honourable female chairperson, Ms Louise Lemmer. Implementation of council decisions has culminated to successes that are attributable to the trio of divisional heads in the form of women. SACAI is proud to be predominantly women, from management, committee structures and all the way to contractors that render examiner, moderator, and marking services. Women play a pivotal role in education, and I believe they will continue to do so for many years to come.
It is therefore also crucial to continuously support and protect women against the gender-based violence. One often over-looked avenue highlighted by the CEO of Umalusi – Dr Rakometsi is empowering the “boy child”. The South African community through various forms of education (assessment and examination material) can consciously and sub-consciously start de-constructing the status quo of men undermining women and work towards constructing psycho-social structures that eventual lead to respect and acknowledgement of women in all spheres of life.
Moreover, while assisting the “boy child”, it is still vital for women to realise they do not need to transform themselves to something they are not to compete and be acknowledged or taken seriously by society, but rather remain true to themselves and celebrate their femininity while acquiring the necessary 21st century skills in readiness for the Fourth and Fifth Industrial Revolutions already upon us. Women’s months should be every month. It is imperative we continuously salute these mothers and daughters of our nation beyond this month.
Let’s make the most of the rest of the year.
VACANCY: Academic (Question Papers Development) Coordinator
SACAI would like to appoint a candidate that would fit the values of the Examination Body and that has a passion for education. The ideal candidate is experienced in setting examination papers, have the ability to plan and coordinate multiple tasks, have an eye for detail and the willingness to add value to the Examination Body.
South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI) was established in 2012. It is a non-profit private assessment body that assesses the National Senior Certificate (NSC) and General Education and Training Certificate: Adult Basic Education and Training (GETC: ABET) qualifications to a diverse group of candidates. SACAI addresses the growing demand for quality and exceptional customer care in external summative assessments for educational institutions and training providers predominantly in distance education.
If you have what it takes, please forward your application (short CV and cover letter) to email@example.com. You can consider your application as unsuccessful if you have not received a response within 3 weeks after the closing date of the advertisement.
Closing date for all applications: Friday 2 September 2022 before close of business.
Auxilio Distance Education was started 9 years ago and is a registered institution with SACAI. It is headed by two ladies, Helga Stevens and Rykie van Rensburg. As we celebrate Women’s Month in August we would also like to celebrate these two heads of Distance Education Institution.
They find the Distance Education Sector to be very exciting, forever changing and growing, it is fast paced and competitive. The exponential growth of the last 2 years in this market has been challenging but also opened so many doors, like negotiation with the relevant authorities.
According to Rykie, stereotyping women in education is that all women are good teachers, or it comes naturally for women to excel in this career. But, she added, not all women are good teachers, some just jump on the band wagon because it looks easy to teach children and it looks easy to start something in the Distance Education sector. But if you are not passionate, and not willing to stick to the Distance Education framework you do more harm than good.
Helga added that she has never regarded her opportunities or challenges from the viewpoint of her being a woman, or that she may be stereotyped as a woman. She does not think that they have experienced stereotyping in a negative way: if you deal with people as individuals and respect their frame of reference their history, and they will learn to do the same.
From a question from SACAI as to what some of the biggest challenges were that women in education face today, Helga responded: “I believe our challenges are the limitations we put on ourselves. I believe that if we look at ourselves as victims instead of regarding our challenges as opportunities to grow, nothing will change in 20 years”.
Rykie said that Distance Education will change in future as there are just so many different needs out there, it is difficult to address all needs under the same umbrella. She believes that new systems must be developed to address these different needs. Legislation is not always clear and suitable for the Distance Education industry. Currently this is being addressed but it takes years to change current legislation.
Both women agreed a dedicated heart is what women can contribute to education. “We try so hard to compete with men in this world that we forget we were wonderfully and fearfully made, we forget that we can bring a soft touch when it is so desperately needed. We all work in the private sector, so our success is mainly calculated in numbers, numbers in the bank account, numbers on a report, number of students enrolled, we must never forget that we are not selling secondhand cars we are building the future of our country,” Helga and Rykie said.
Rykie indicated that they would love to accommodate all children, especially children with learning and/or personal challenges. Making the syllabus or learning more user friendly and help the children apply what they have studied in their daily lives is a good start. Helga’s dream is a bit wider – she would like to teach our youth to take responsibility for their decisions, to be honest and to not want to get ahead at all costs. “We are so quick to point fingers, instead of standing back, looking at the situation and finding a way to do better.”
Rykie obtained her Honours degree in Education and Helga has a Bachelors degree in Human Resources. They met while working at a study centre and it was there where there the partnership began.
When asked about their career highlights, they said that they have learnt more from their failures than their successes. They define success in the difference they make in someone’s life, therefore their highlights would probably be success stories. They are not referring as much to the distinctions, as to those children that were forgotten and lost in the system: those children whose parents were at their wit’s end and they just needed somebody to hear them and to offer assistance. Those children that in the schooling process learned that school is not the be all and end all, it is a means to an end and just a tool to help you find your purpose in this world. Their achievements and failures did not define them, but rather shaped them.
It is definitely not all work and no play for these two ladies. Rykie spends time nature and Helga’s way of relaxing is good food, good wine, and good company.
Coleen Lambert is the founder and Executive Director of Mindscape. To celebrate Women’s Month, we decided to get to know her a bit better by asking her views on women in distance education.
Coleen is honoured to lead a company that punches above its weight in a tough, demanding and competitive sector. She said, “I don’t think that being a woman is an advantage or a disadvantage in this particular space – it’s all about focussing on the job at hand and the enormous responsibility that comes with it.”
When asked about the biggest challenges that women in education face today, Coleen said that women in society generally experience similar challenges. The threat of gender-based violence, the expectation that we be perfect mothers, have admirable work-ethic, be stylish homemakers, entertain with flair, be strong, financially independent from our spouse, be healthy, fit, the list is endless. Until societal norms change, these challenges will never dissipate. We also put huge pressure on ourselves – comparison is the thief of joy, and until women band together, uplift each other and eliminate professional jealousy, there will be no shift or change. Change is incremental and although societal norms are slowly shifting, the change needs to be revolutionary, and not evolutionary. This holds true for each and every platform. The other challenge is for society to become more educated. The fact that currently, globally there are 130 million girls not being educated or at school is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis.
Coleen further states that women’s ongoing contribution to humanity is far greater than any contribution to education, although she sometimes wonder how different our lives would be if only Eve did not eat the damn apple! Women are natural teachers. We have an innate ability to teach and educate, in fact it is almost instinctive…
She is of the opinion that women are stereotypically seen as emotional and weak and explains it as “I would contend that the presence of emotion proves a lack of apathy, and conversely, the absence of apathy is proof that people still care. Indifference, whether you are male or female, is far more dangerous that stereotyping, regardless of the industry”.
In as far as changes and improvement in distance learning goes, she is of the opinion that the sector needs to be recognized for what it is, and destigmatized. She feels that it should be self-regulated. The distance education sector is never going to disappear, if anything it is going from strength to strength as parents are forced to re-evaluate their options and adjust their way of schooling to suit their children’s needs and personalities.
Coleen Lambert is a wife, mom, aunt, and dog-mom to 2 St Bernard’s. The highlights of her career thus far would include the first Mindscape Grade 12’s sitting their NSC’s in 2015 and being elected as a participant in SACAI’s Academic Council. She has also represented the industry on ENCA and at round-table discussions with the Minister of Education. She is overall blessed to be able to do what she loves and teach youngsters, who’s mind and way of thinking astounds her daily. She is reminded that the Champion is in the Chair and that she is merely along for the ride hoping to make a difference in their lives in some small meaningful way.
Relaxing is not one of Coleen’s favorite things to do, but she does sometimes binge-watch mind-numbing series like Chesapeake Shores and Bridgerton.
Bridging course to level 1
Jabulani Khumalo was born in Jozini, KwaZulu Natal. He joined Richards Bay Minerals as a permanent employee in 2012 at the age of 40 where he previously worked as a contractor. Jabulani Khumalo joined the ABET programme on 3 July 2019. When he first joined the programme, he had no prior schooling whatsoever. Although he could read and write in his mother tongue, he could not read and write in English. He therefore had to start on the Bridging course to level 1 (Basic Oral).
He progressed to Level 1 Communication in English. It was a challenge but with hard-work and perseverance, he started making progress. He improved and could now construct basic sentences, something which he never managed to do before joining the training. He wrote his exams with SACAI ABET Division and passed very well. He then proceeded to Mathematical Literacy Level 1 which he also passed. He made remarkable progress especially in his reading skills. In March 2020, the training was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Training resumed at a later stage and Jabulani needed some revision and through commitment and hard work, Jabulani excelled and managed to proceed to the next level.
His latest exam with SACAI ABET Division was in March 2022 (Mathematical Literacy Level 3) which he passed with a Higher Credit. He is quite proud of his achievements. He says that he can now calculate interest rates as well as convert some percentages to actual figures through the knowledge that he gained during this ABET course. In addition, he can assist his children with homework, which is something he never dreamt of. He is very proud of what he has achieved so far and stated that the learning experience was challenging but a fruitful one.
Jabulani is currently completing his NQF 1 in both English and Mathematical Literacy.
Coordinator: Exam Venue & Marketing
We would like to welcome Theo, new Coordinator: Examination Venues and -Marking at SACAI. Theo joined SACAI on 1 June 2022.
Upon arrival, SACAI ensured her that she was valued, welcomed and treated her as a significant part of the organisation. According to her, SACAI is a dynamic and versatile organisation that is continuously striving for being the most ethical and efficient examination board in the country.
She is particularly interested in the Distance Education itself, as it supports self-paced learning, it calls for flexible scheduling opportunities, it is an offer that is accessible to everyone and can assist with the reduction of social anxiety. These issues are important to her. Theo completed her post graduate diploma in BCom Management from University of Johannesburg and holds a BA degree in Public Management and Governance.
Theo is described as analytical, dependable, and courageous and an ambivert individual (a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features). When she is not at the office, she spends quality time with her family and meditates. She is intrigued by developmental challenges as they always bring out the best in her.
We wish her all the best at SACAI.