KwaZulu-Natal-born teacher, who still has his strong Zulu accent, has recently been appointed acting deputy principal of a private school in China.
Ndumiso Mpanza, 28, not only holds the senior position at the Interlingua School in Guizhou province, but is also a shareholder in the school.
Speaking to TimesLIVE, Mpanza said his exposure to China’s technologically advanced schools has not altered his perception that the SA schooling system remains in a league of its own.
“If I had to compare the SA system to the rest of the world — not just China, but other parts of Asia, Europe and America — the SA system is by far one of the finest in the world.
“The challenge is that SA needs to be stricter about the pass mark and implementation. However, when you read basic education minister Angie Motshekga’s white paper on education, you get to understand her vision and where she wants to take the education system.
If the SA education system was as bad as people make it seem, why do first world countries want to employ teachers from SA? If we had an unprofessional system they would definitely not want to hire us.
“If the education system was as bad as people make it seem, why do first world countries want to employ teachers from SA? If we had an unprofessional system, they would definitely not want to hire us,” said Mpanza.
Many SA teachers are pursuing teaching opportunities in Asia.
Mpanza said for many, the move was due to high unemployment in SA and the opportunity to earn more in China while saving for a comfortable return to SA.
It was for similar reasons that Mpanza decided to pursue a teaching life abroad.
Mpanza said after completing matric, he took a gap year and worked as a waiter and a manager at restaurants in the Ballito area. A need for something more secure led to him studying for his education degree at the University of Pretoria. After qualifying and working in schools in Mpumalanga and Gauteng, Mpanza said he longed for more.
“I wanted a new challenge. I saw an advert that China was recruiting teachers and I submitted my application. Within a week, I had my interview. Within three days I had a contract. Next was getting the paperwork sorted. By the third week, I was getting ready to leave the country and I resigned from my job,” said Mpanza.
He has been working in China for more than two years and has made his mark and flown the SA flag high. Last year he bagged the best international teacher expert of the year award after he achieved a 100% pass rate in biology at the school at which he was teaching. About 95% of the pupils he taught achieved straight As.
He has also been promoted to acting deputy principal.
Mpanza said his new role included conducting interviews, hiring and training foreign teachers and developing the curriculum.
Mpanza said China was well prepared to handle Covid-19 in its schools.
“Schools were given proper support . Classes were online, students were given tablets, and teachers were given training.
“The government didn’t just instruct teachers to give classes online. They were trained on new software and systems,” he said.
Mpanza’s long-term plans include returning to SA, where he hopes to impart the skills and knowledge he has picked up in China.