Connie Mbowane, a Sebokeng teacher who also won the education category, has selflessly dedicated 35 years of her life to teaching and has been principal of the Montsusi primary school in Sebokeng since 1980. The school is located in a poverty-stricken area, where most of the parents are unemployed, and it also caters to street children and orphans. Through the years, she has continuously hosted up to three schools in her single building by juggling the hours that learners and teachers from the different institutions could spend there.
Taking care of up to 500 hungry children each day in a single school building, Connie mobilised the unemployed men and women in the community to establish a vegetable garden. As part of her Botho ke Botle (Humanity is Beauty) plan, today it not only feeds the children, but also yields financial returns for the school and the community.
She has excelled in looking after her school and the broader community’s interests. Not long ago, she orchestrated the building of a bridge over the road in front of her school for the children and parents to pass over – a near miracle in her cash-strapped community. On top of this, she secured work on the construction of the bridge for 14 of her community’s jobless, unskilled workers through the Department of Labour.
Connie has also raised funds to set up a borehole on her school grounds to better irrigate the vegetable gardens and she has started talks with the education department to acquire more ground in the area to augment the food project. Here, she has put her HIV/AIDS training to good use by encouraging sufferers to work in the garden and grow healthy food to improve their diet.
Since winning the Award, and with her well-known motto “you have to keep on keeping on”, Connie has become a sought-after motivational speaker in the private and public sectors and has received accolades from the Department of Education for her good work recognised through the Award. She has appeared at the famous Wednesday Parades in Pretoria and has formed part of the Civil Guard welcoming President Thabo Mbeki to Parliament in January 2004. She also received an Award from Emfuleni Local Government as public worker of the year.
Connie says winning the Award has given her status in her community. “I am now a figure to be reckoned with and often act as a motivator and facilitator. My school got funds from Public Works to upgrade the building, but both parents and learners now work together with educators to raise funds through recycling.
“The learners and educators are enthusiastic to do projects. In 2006 we won an award from Bontle ke Botho / Keep the Environment Clean Campaign in the category of technology.”
Connie’s advice to nominees is that they should do what they are doing currently and as they have been doing it. She says they should not try to impress whoever will be adjudicating them.
As from the March 2007, Connie has been appointed as the CEO of the Professional Educators Union’s National Offices. She says it will give her more exposure and “a chance to touch more people. I will still be attached to Montsusi Primary School projects.”
Three finalists have been announced in each of the five categories of the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award.
The names of the judges who will select this year's Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year, have been announced.
As the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award enters its judging phase, the winners of 2011 tell of how they are utilizing the prize money received from the Shoprite Group of Companies, to enhance their work and build a better future for the people of South Africa.
Women of the Year Office
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