Thejane Malakane

Toloane Primary School, Maseru, Lesotho

Thejane Malakane

Thejane is an ambassador for innovative education, an advocate for inclusivity of girls in technology fields, and a supporter of rural school improvement.

He began teaching in 2005 as an unqualified substitute teacher, contracted to teach for two years replacing someone on study leave. During his first year of teaching, fell in love with the diversity of learners. His students come from families of differing socio-economic status and he had to learn to integrate them all together in the classroom. After 18 months, he was told that he would be employed permanently because of the impact of his work and the dedication he showed. Thejane then registered with the local teacher college to receive professional training, which he completed successfully after four years.

Thejane’s school is located in a rural village. Classes are overcrowded: in a typical classroom there are often eighty pupils to one teacher, although the prescribed teacher-learner ratio is 1:30. Many students come from other villages, having to cross rivers to get to school. This causes them to miss school and has a direct impact on their academic performance. Many learners are orphans and therefore living in child-headed families. They are forced to contribute to their family’s welfare, meaning that they too miss school. The school experiences vandalism and burglary regularly because it has little security provision, and learning materials are often stolen or damaged.

To remedy some of these problems, Thejane has exploited his resources innovatively. He began using his phone to record lessons for students that are absent, and then play them the next day when they return. Eventually, both absent and present students began to play the lessons repeatedly to get more understanding. Seeing the impact, Thejane has since experimented with both online and offline tools to support his teaching. He downloads educational videos that reinforce what the students learn in class, then shares them to their borrowed mobile phones so that they can watch at home. Using Microsoft LCDS, Thejane has developed an environmental project that learners can access from a CD or mobile phone. He has also developed links with international schools via Skype, despite not having connectivity within the school (he arranges with the owner of the village convenience store to use his electricity to connect a Wi-Fi router and laptop). He is a voluntary trainer at the School Technology Innovation Centre (STIC) based at the Lesotho College of Education, where he shares basic computer skills for teachers as well as innovative ways of teaching and building educational projects. He is also a Microsoft Expert Educator.

In 2017, Thejane was selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow and given a rare chance to study a Civic Leadership course at Arizona State University in the US. If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, he will launch his own educational trust that focuses on financing tertiary education of underprivileged students. He will also be able to install electricity and Internet connectivity in his school – a long-held wish.