Vanderbijlpark Campus alumnus Sabata Xaba holds a honours degree in psychology and sociology. He works in the education sector and owns a content development business.


Learning to be a leader


Sabata says studying at the NWU strengthened his leadership skills and academic prowess.


He describes his years at the NWU as “blissful” and credits the university for how well prepared he was when he entered the workplace.


“My time at the NWU was a rather awesome experience. I was blessed with illustrious lecturers and considerable freedom to go wherever my curiosity might lead.


“I also feel extremely fortunate to have studied at a university that enabled me to exercise my leadership skills. These skills have come in handy in my work life.”



Motivating learners to meet their objectives


Amid his work demands, Sabata managed to run a successful project motivating Grade 12's to develop clear study plans.


“These projects helped learners to feel empowered to meet learning objectives,” he says.


“We provided real-life examples of how the classes they were taking would directly be used in career fields they were seeking, helped them to apply to tertiary institutions and gave them advice on course choices.”


Leap of faith pays off for entrepreneurial alumnus

Alumnus Sabata Xaba doesn't sleep much these days as the demand for the services of his company, Siphilangomusa Projects, is increasing.

This is chiefly due to changes in educational trends brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Not that he is complaining, as this has meant growth for his content development business.


Sabata says that owing to the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in online learning, resulting in his business adopting new systems to accommodate emerging training trends, for instance training teachers on how to teach online.


His company started with two employees as a supply and delivery entity and later branched out into content development for provincial government departments. The company now employs more than 10 employees.


“We are in partnership with online education provider Emeritus Training Academy where we develop customised learning solutions for the Gauteng Department of Education and the Gauteng Department of Social Development,” says Sabata.


“We provide them with solutions that are well-researched, aligned and tested by different countries such as Israel, Ukraine and Khuzestan. For example, we have developed a methodology and pedagogy on how to effectively teach early childhood development practitioners about the cognitive development of children.”


Growing from small beginnings


Things have not always been this rosy for the married 38-year-old father of three who grew up under difficult circumstances in Zone 3, Sebokeng.


Sabata, who holds an honours degree in psychology and sociology from the NWU and is also a graduate of the OR Tambo Academy, an ANC political school, was raised by his aunt and granny after his parents separated while he was still in primary school. Though his aunt and granny had no formal education, they placed a high value on educational accomplishment.


Sabata says life’s hardships led him to look for something bigger than himself and he became a born-again Christian while in high school.His tertiary studies started at the then Vista University but, in search of an “intellectually spirited climate”, he later joined the NWU, where he completed his undergraduate studies and then his honours in psychology and sociology.


He became very active in the Student Christian Organisation on the Vanderbijlpark Campus. “This sharpened my leadership skills as I later joined national politics,” says Sabata.


Kicking off his career


Before taking a leap of faith and opening his own business, Sabata worked for the Department of Education. There he headed two programmes, namely life skills and HIV and Aids, training principals and learners on topics such as teenage pregnancy, substance abuse and conflict resolution, among others.


He then joined a company called Eduscimat as a project manager and was later promoted to provincial head. Eduscimat specialises in mathematics and science laboratories, providing different methodologies and pedagogy to improve mathematics and science results in the country.


Although entering the education sector was never part of the plan, Sabata says he enjoyed the transition.


When he is not busy with business matters, he spends time with his three boys and his beautiful wife, Baby Xaba.




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What the future holds for education


Asked about the future of education, Sabata says it’s too early to say that brick-and-mortar schools will be replaced by e-learning anytime soon.


He adds that the Covid-19 crisis has changed the approach to the educational systems, resulting in a massive move to e-learning.


He believes that the innovations teachers use during the Covid-19 outbreak may lead to lasting change, with technology playing a bigger role in schools in the future.


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