Before Shila Mphahele began working for the Department of Education, her career started as a teacher in the Limpopo province.

“I studied Senior Primary Teacher’s Diploma after my High School Qualification and became a teacher for 12 years before becoming office-based in 2010,”says Mphahele. “I taught at different schools, including Special School where I offered services in Foundation Phase, Intermediate Phase, Senior Phase and Further Education and Training Phase.”

“I also worked as a training officer on skills development for community projects due to lack of permanent employment.”

Mphahele’s experience of working in a skills development agency inspired her to become a professional facilitator and leadership coach. She later qualified as an assessor and moderator, registered with ETDP Seta.

Not only is Mphahele a qualified e-tutor (using a high-level on-screen marking tool), she can have a basic conversation with a deaf person thanks to a sign qualification she achieved through SLED (Sign Language Education and Development) in 2013.

But when it comes down to it, what matters most to Mphalele is her students:

“I have opportunities to make a difference in the lives of learners experiencing barriers to learning. I get to do assessments and placement of learners in different institutions including special schools,” says Mphahele. “I get motivate by the fact that every day I put a smile on the face of a learner who was about to give up on his or her future.”

Mphalele’s involvement with ICT started when she heard about the Intel Teach programme. She strongly believes that if learners can see the value of ICTs in every subject, not just STEM, they will also see value in the learning as a whole.

“With Intel, I learned how to integrate ICTs with my learning programmes. The skills I acquired helped me to make a difference in the lives of hospitalised learners who were suffering from cancer at Kalafong Middle Hospital School in Atteridgeville,” Mphalele explains.

“Those learners were spending most of their lives in the hospital mostly in pain. Learning with text books was just adding to their pain and ICT brought smiles on their faces and looked forward to come to school every day even if they were on drips.”

Mphahele worked at Kalafong for five years before getting a promotion to work at the District Office.

As a parent, Mphahele feels that her children as her true inspiration, especially seeing so many women who are struggling with “parenting the current generation” due to an information and skills gap mostly created by technology.

“I learn a lot from my kids every day. Their uniqueness and love for different things motivates me to be a long life learner especially when it comes to technology. I strive to keep up with their knowledge and skills so that they don’t get astray,” she adds. “Few parents know about parenting controls on the technological gadgets and most of them even rely on their kids to help them operate the gadgets.”

Mphahele is currently designing a model for ICTs as a support mechanism for learners experiencing reading difficulties. The role involves addressing barriers of learning and using ICT as a support mechanism for learners experiencing reading difficulties.

Her next government project will be about initiating a parental online support group for parents of learners with severe behavioural and learning difficulties.

“In most instances, I come across parents who become shattered when they discover that their children are experiencing barriers to learning. Instead of supporting their children they think about themselves, their status and what they thought or wish their children would become,” Mphahele says.

“Since these parents are ashamed at the beginning to accept the conditions of their children I feel online support can gradually help them to gain confidence and begin to share with other members around the world.”

This story is part of a special series focusing on IT in Education, brought to you in association with Intel. See the complete collection (so far) by clicking here.

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