- Florah Mukumo made headlines after she graduated from UNISA with a Bachelor of Information Science from the College of Human Sciences degree
- Mukumo did not have it easy in life and she worked for many years as a cleaner
- Even though she plans on retiring next year, Mukuro is happy knowing she realised her dream and hopes others do the same
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By Mkhululi Chimoio - Freelance Journalist
The first black President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela once said:
“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of a farm worker can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”
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”What pushed me not to give up was that I was tired of working as a cleaner and wanted to get a better post," says Tzaneen-born Mukumo, a 64 year-old mother who recently obtained a Bachelor of Information Science at the College of Human Sciences at Unisa.
For Mukumo and her family they “will forever cherish this achievement as I hope to be a leading example to my children, grandchildren and every youth out there who is inspired by education”.
It has been a grueling journey for Mukumo, currently a Chief Library assistant who never gave up the fight for a better life.
Mukomo who comes from a poverty-stricken family never had an opportunity to complete her Matric and had to find a job while young following her father’s death.
“My father died when my siblings and I were still young, and my unemployed mother was left to take care of us by herself. The situation made it difficult for me to matriculate. By the grace of God, I managed to get a job at the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality as a cleaner.”
While working as a cleaner Mukomo developed a passion for learning new things. Her desire to learn was noticed by her supervisor who motivated her spirit by allowing her to utilise workplace facilities to grow herself.
“My supervisor always allowed me to develop and hone my skills by using a computer whenever I was done with my cleaning duties. This was a turning point in my life as I learnt new things that influenced the stage I am in today.”
Mukumo was later recommended for a post at the municipality’s library as a trainee library assistant.
Her supervisor motivated her to further her studies and register for a higher education qualification. Understanding that she can use education and knowledge to empower herself, she registered for Adult Basic Education and Training level 4 and computer literacy courses in 2002.
“I had to attend classes after work, which was challenging, but I did it and passed. It has been a rough road but with focus and dedication I managed to come out victorious. This stage was the foundation of my achievement today. It showed me that yes I can do and achieve whatever I was as long as I focus. Passing my Adult Basic Education and Training level 4 and computer literacy courses in 2002 motivated me to register for my first Degree. I am over the moon that here I am today and achieved my first Degree,” she said.
Not everything came easy for Mukomo as she had to overcome time management challenges.
“It is not easy being a single mother, which is a full-time job, and studying at the same time. Because I was expected to perform my library duties at work, I had to study during lunch. I appreciate the support that I got from my children and some of my colleagues in this journey. Imagine being a trainee library assistant was not enough as I was still earning the salary of a cleaner. I had to empower myself, as I grew up within the ranks and I am currently a chief library assistant. I had to keep juggling schedules for survival.”
Her supervisor recommended that she study through Unisa.
“My manager was instrumental in my enrolling at UNISA. Unisa is an open, distance and e-learning institution, and my manager advised it will be easy for me to manage my time,” said Mukomo, recommending that grown up people must consider studying at Unisa.
Mukumo also stated that her qualification helps her to effectively perform her work duties, including helping library clients with their information needs.
“I am retiring next year and will continue to support community information needs in various structures such as church and community clubs.”
She encourages students and those from underprivileged backgrounds to not give up on their dreams.
“Anything is possible when you believe in yourself and are passionate. People might think that it is not useful to have a degree at the age of 64 as I am soon going on pension, but the knowledge that I have gained through studying will empower me forever.”
Meet Elizabeth Ely, domestic worker who obtained her degree at 60
Meanwhile, Briefly News reported a local gogo is an inspiration to Mzansi after recently obtaining her degree in Business Management. Although it's unclear how long Elizabeth Ely had been working towards the incredible achievement, the 60-year-old domestic worker managed to get it done.
Heading online, LinkedIn member Thomas Mawela shared her amazing story.
"A clean sweep: Domestic worker obtains Business Management degree at age 60 - Elizabeth Ely," he captioned the post.