Turning adversity into opportunity: A black woman’s journey into academia

Ndlovu, Nokulunga S.
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This article is a contribution to the stories of black women educators working at schools and higher education institutions (HEIs) in South Africa as they have responded to a variety of challenges in their journeys into academia. It is an auto-ethnographic account in which the author has borrowed concepts from sociology to help her analyse her experiences in two educational fields or contexts (ie, a high school and a university) which have contributed to the constitution of a habitus characterised by resilience and assertiveness. In this auto-ethnography the author focuses on the challenges she has faced; how her habitus has informed the choices she has made in response to these challenges; and how, as she has tried to work out what actions to take, she has been able to survive in the sometimes trying circumstances presented by the fields. Her story is in three parts: (i) her experiences as a Zulu First Additional Language (FAL) teacher in a previously white suburban high school at which there were no materials available for teaching Zulu at this level; (ii) her largely positive experiences as a student in the Bachelor of Education (BEd) Honours degree programme which enabled her to respond to some of the challenges of the high school teaching context; and (iii) her experiences as a lecturer at the Wits School of Education (WSoE) with responsibility for teaching (successively) Zulu FAL and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education courses, while also undertaking research in the latter area – experiences in which the support of a mentor played a key role. The author concludes by making explicit the impact of the interactions between her habitus and her experiences in the two fields as she has made choices that have contributed to her on-going development as an academic.
Zulu language – teaching – online materials, Academic careers – South African black women
Ndlovu, N.S. (2014). Turning adversity into opportunity: A black woman’s journey into academia. South African Journal of Higher Education, 28(6), 2041-2051.