Tsibogang is proud to say that the peer education program is over 20 years old. Since it’s start in 2001 every year we had Tshepanang workshops which were well attended by hundreds of young people. This year in the first week of October another workshop took place in Mahikeng with 49 peer educators, two of them were new. For the first time we had the daughter of a peer educator attending who wants to teach next year.
The curriculum has changed over the years. Due to social problems and ills the focus last year and this year has shifted to Gender based violence and three new lessons about substance abuse were added. The ones who benefit most of this are the peer educators themselves. Here is an example of that. I interviewed Manana Motuba during the workshop and asked her what impact the teaching had in her own life.
Can you please introduce yourself: where do you live? With whom do you live? What do you like? What do you hate?
I am Manana Motuba and I live in Itsoseng together with my daughter who is 24 years old. I am an active member of the church and the community. I hate lies, I can’t stand lies,because it breaks trust between people.
For how long have you been a Peer Educator in Tshepanang?
I am teaching as peer educator for ten years now.
Do you recall the first time when you stood in front of a school class and had to present a lesson? How did it go? What was it about? How did you feel? Did you feel as a peer to the learners?
Yes, I do remember the first time when I stood in front of a class. By then we focused on values like hope, loyality, honesty, trust etc. That was very close to my heart. I felt a bit anxious but the learners made it easy for me to approach them and to overcome my fear. It was also helpful that I was not alone but that we practiced team teaching.
Have you ever experienced a situation where you came into conflict with your own values or attitudes?
All the time since I started as peer educator I was very well aware of the fact that teaching about values also meant for me to stick to these values and attitudes myself. I remember that my conscience bothered me a lot when I did not do, what I was teaching a class or trying to convince the learners. But over time I said to myself that it is important to acknowledge my failures and to overcome them.
What was the most difficult situation you experienced in class as peer educator?
It is not one experience which is a big challenge for me but something which happens times and again. I come into the class and realize that some learners do not listen, are not interested or even disturb others to participate. In a situation like this, I feel that being a peer educator is something very different from being a teacher. Sometimes I have to involve the teachers or even the principal to get the attention of the learners. I need their cooperation for the topics we discuss. I don’t want to force them but some learners want call for disciplinary action.
How do the learners see you?
For most of the learners I am like a big sisters or older friend to whom their can look up, hare their problems with and someone who listens to them without any demands of catches. Sometimes I am in the role of a parent who gives advice, sometimes I have to mediate between learners and teachers.
If you could choose one topic or one thing of the Tshepanang curriculum, what would it be ? Are there lessons you are not comfortable to teach? Why?
There is no topic in the curriculum which I would like to change or with which I am not comfortable with. Over the years of teaching the Tshepanang curriculum I have developed certain topics which are close to my heart. But the yearly Tshepanang workshops have helped me to relate to the different topics well and to internalize these topics.
What have you learned about yourself being a peer educator? How has your life changed being a peer educator?
Before I was a peer educator I was working in a saloon, doing hairs and I worked at a fish and chips restaurant. My life has changed totally since then. I was living with my mother who had a mental condition. We had to look after ourselves, we were given food by a social worker, she would come and buy school uniforms. I fell pregnant when I was 17 years due to the situation. When I became a peer educator, it helped me to accept my life. My older sister was HIV positive and I had to look after her and I learned to work for my family and learned to deal with my own problems and share with others. I taught at the primary school to which I myself went and came across some of the teachers who taught me.
If you could choose a career and do something else than being a peer educator, what would you do?
While being a peer educator I have started being a counselor for people with stress and trauma. Coming across son many young people with challenges led me to the question if it would be better to train as a social worker. But over time I felt that it is very important to have motivated teachers. So I have taken the decision to do a course in Grade R (Reception class). With the help of Tsibogang I am privileged to study part time and I hope to finish in 2 years time.
Would you recruit younger people to become peer educators? What traits and qualities would you look for?
The focus should be that someone likes to work with children, some body should care about children and would be willing to sacrifice his/her time.
Yes, I will recruit younger people to become peer educators because as I see in my own life, I have gained so much experience and self confidence. The Tshepanang workshops in which we had Bible studies have shaped my faith and helped me to grow. Sometimes I feel, we the peer educators are the ones who benefit from this program the most.