University honours for cleaner

Nonkuthalo  Ndleleni, a cleaner at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital (CMH) since 1999, never gave up on her dreams of self-advancement.

For years she sweated over brooms and books until she graduated with a University of Fort Hare (UFH) honours degree in communications and a separate diploma in education from Unisa.

Now Ndleleni is the super-qualified head of housekeeping and cleaners at CMH.

The 55-year-old woman from Centane has an enduring love for studying.

“I had a matric when I started. I’ve always wanted to further my studies. That was my plan before my father passed away. Then I told myself that when I get a job I will push myself.”

Ndleleni completed her UFH communications undergraduate studies in 2008 and graduated from her honours class in 2010.

However, she struggled to find a job and decided to study further, earning herself a diploma in education through Unisa.

Her first love in life was agriculture. It was her first study option, but when she was unable to get into the course, she started out with her second choice of communications.

“A friend of mine worked for Radio Transkei, and that’s why I was interested in communication.”

She attempted the communications degree through Unisa, but in her first year realised she needed to be “behind a desk for better understanding”.

When the opportunity presented itself by way of night-shift duty, she grabbed it.

“There were obstacles with working and studying at the same time. Sometimes I’d be put on day duty which meant I missed school, but I persevered,” she said.

“I wish I could work somewhere where I can use this degree. When I didn’t get posts in communications I decided to do a national professional diploma in education because I was desperate for another option. Since I had an Abet diploma and Unisa had taken me on as a tutor, I thought education was a good option.”

Ndleleni said being an unmarried single mother made it easier for her to put some of her money towards her education. “I paid for myself, without any help,” she said.

She said she didn’t mind that she only had 10 years to go before retiring; she still dreams of a job in the communications sector.

Provincial health spokesman Siyanda Manana praised Ndleleni: “We encourage people to develop themselves because it enhances their ability to do their job better.”


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