Inspired to become a teacher  | Western Cape Education Department
Inspired to become a teacher 

Inspired to become a teacher 

13 December 2022

Shaheeda Duncan, a general assistant at Cedar Secondary School in Mitchells Plain, is currently busy studying towards a degree in Education.

The 61-year-old grandma says she was inspired by a secretary at the school who also qualified as a teacher. 

Duncan only has three modules left before she will graduate, and she says excitement is mounting as she comes closer to realising her dream to teach Afrikaans and Life Orientation at a high school.

Duncan has strong ties to Cedar Secondary School where she started working in 2001 in the computer lab as a Khanya lab assistant. When the Khanya project came to an end, she was appointed by the School Governing Body as a General Assistant. Her three children also attended the school. 

In 2006 she completed matric at Cedar Secondary School. She split her subjects over two years and her excellent results enabled her to pursue tertiary studies in 2013. Finances were tight and she had to put her studies on the backburner until 2017 when her appointment by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) meant an increase in her salary. Duncan used the extra money to pay for her studies at UNISA.  

Brenda Davids of the WCED’s Directorate: Strategic People Management, recently met Duncan when she offered training in the Metro South Education District. “When she told her story in the class, it really inspired the others to further their studies. She pays for her studies out of her own pocket and is struggling financially. Mrs Duncan’s situation is a story of hope and encouragement.”

“It is a pity I started so late. I enjoy studying and did very well in my modules so far,” says Duncan. It also helps that her family and especially her husband, who is already retired, are all very supportive and proud of her achievements.

The teachers at Cedar Secondary have also been very helpful and assisted Duncan with resources and insights into the world of teaching.  “This is where I learned to become a teacher by observing the teachers at the school and how they communicate with each other and the learners. Whenever I need help, I can just ask any of the teachers. They are very patient and will sit after hours with me to explain concepts. Other older students at UNISA have also noted how excited teachers are if somebody reach out to them for assistance. Especially older people. They encourage lifelong learning.”

Duncan plans to apply for a bursary next year to pay for her studies and says she can’t wait to start working as a teacher.