Having grown up in a home where both parents are teachers, it has been a joy to read Where Light Shines Through by Kimon Phitidis. These are stories of people who I can easily relate to.
With that said, there is a level of newfound respect that I have developed for these “can-do” teachers who go the extra mile to not only tick the box when it comes to making sure the syllabus is completed but ensuring that the learners are receiving a wholesome approach to education.
Where Light Shines Through tells the stories of such teachers from the no-fee public schools across the country.
Now, I know that not every teacher who takes up the mantle will be able to become a world-history-maker educator, but there are those kids, in most of these stories, who rely on teachers to provide them that comfort and level of support that they don’t receive at home, let alone the community where they find themselves every night.
Phitidis has done a very good job of engrossing himself in the lives of his subjects, thus allowing himself to tell their stories as candidly as possible.
With all the good and amazing stories in the book, for me, however, it was Zukiswa Soga’s story which really stuck with me. While there’s nothing unique about Soga’s story that has never been seen before, however, her story has left me wondering why teachers like her still do what they do and for long will we still have teachers of her calibre.
The level of care and attention that Soga pays to her learners is invaluable. She goes the extra mile for her learners to the point where she gets them excited about watching and following the evening news bulletin. Now, if I think back to my primary school days, not many teachers would even try to convince you to watch the news and not because it will form part of the next test or assignment but because we need to have a discussion about it.
I think the manner in which the author has portrayed hers and the rest of the stories, specifically hers, cause she reminds me so much of my mother, who will be retiring at the end of this year after nearly four decades of teaching, shows that there are teachers who go beyond the call of duty in developing young minds.
Each of the 16 teachers’ stories has themes that many teachers across the country will easily relate to.
The creativity and spark that gets the imaginative juices flowing places you, the reader, right there in the classroom. You can, short of not sounding too whack, smell the chalk and wood from decade-old desks that the kids are using to get their basic education wrapped up.
Where Light Shines Through is a thought-provoking and very vivid reminder of how important good basic education teachers are needed in this country. If we aim to rebuild and uplift the next generation, these educators need to be celebrated much like the author has done. We should honour these “can-do” teachers for they are the light that is shining through for our future leaders.