Lawrence Dube, a gardener graduates with 19 Distinctions. He looked like a simple gardener BUT shocked his employers when he obtained a university degree with 19 distinctions.

Growing up in poverty-stricken Bhekiswako village outside White River, Mpumalanga, did not deter Lawrence Dube from pursuing his dream of becoming a teacher.Lawrence Dube


At 31, Dube, who until two years ago worked as a groundsman at Penryn College has achieved what others could only aspire to after obtaining his BEd degree at Unisa cum laude in May.

The father of two has officially hanged up his overalls, broom and a stack of keys and is now reaping the fruits of the many years he spent burning the midnight oil.

“I actually graduated cum laude and I want to use the knowledge I acquired to inspire others. I am the first person in my family of seven to get a formal education,” he says.

His proudest moment came two months ago at the official graduation ceremony, where he got to wear his gown and cap and be acknowledged by his new peers.

After matriculating in 2001, Dube worked in various spaza shops in his village to make ends meet. His fortunes turned around in 2008 when he was employed as a groundsman at Penryn College, and took full advantage of the staff development programme there.

“I approached the headmasters at the time, Greg Theron and Andrew Collie, to discuss opportunities for studying further to be a biology teacher,” Dube says.

He says deciding to study towards a university degree was daunting at first as he was just a “simple groundsman”.

In 2010, Dube mustered enough courage to enrol with Unisa to study towards an education degree. It took him four years to complete it, majoring in Biology and Seswati.

Now that he has a degree, he says he does not want to stop. He has enrolled for an honours degree, and says he eventually wants to get a doctorate.

Two years into his degree, the college took him out of his overalls and involved him in their learner support programme.

Today he is programme leader responsible for 59 schools in Bohlabela.

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