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80-year-old first-year student wants to ‘keep building an educated SA’

This octogenarian isn’t letting his advanced age slow him down or stop him from fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a professional teacher.

Jacob Seboko is the oldest first-year student in the history of North-West University (formerly Potchefstroom University).

“I’ve been so lonely since my wife, Wilhelmina, passed away 10 years ago,” says Seboko, who lives in Sebokeng, Vanderbiljpark.

He found that if he keeps busy he won’t feel the loneliness too much.

Seboko is completing subjects in order to gain his postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). He takes some of these subjects – including marketing management and psychology – on a first-year level.

He also has a diploma in adult basic education and training (Abet) through Unisa.

“I’m passionate about teaching,” he tells us.

Tertiary education isn’t new to Seboko, who’s grandfather to a 15-year-old boy. In 1996 he graduated with a BA degree in public administration and management, which he completed at the Vaal Campus of what was then called the Potchefstroomse Universiteit vir Christelike Hoër Onderwys.

“Education changes everything – no one can take it away from you. I wholeheartedly believe education can improve your life on various levels. It gives you a future, something to be proud of. Most of all, it commands respect.”

How does he get along with his classmates, most of whom are six decades his junior?

“My classmates respect me and make me feel welcome. There’s a huge age difference – I’m turning 80 this year. But we’re learning from each other. Being a first-year student in 2019 is a new experience for all of us. But life experience and passion will guide us.”

Seboko says he enjoys working with numbers and his favourite subjects are economics and accounting. “Give me a balance sheet and I’m at my happiest,” he says.

But he does admit to finding technology a bit challenging. “The kids today know so much about the internet – and I’m amazed at all the things they can do with a cellphone.”

Seboko says he dreams of an SA where children and young people prioritise education.

“Many who see me think my time has passed but I’m here to tell them that now is their future. Not one day. Today.

“A lot of young people put parties and politics above school and education but I want to tell them they’re wasting their time. As a professional educator and as long as I’m in good health, I’ll keep building the foundations of an educated South Africa.”


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