Dr Mfanelo Patrick Ntsobi is a man whose voracious consumption of facts, in his chosen field of work, and research, is a remarkable quality to possess. This, as a consequence, casts not only a learned figure about him but is indicative of someone with a zeal in finding sustainable educational solutions.
Dr Ntsobi comes from a military background, a graduate from the Military Academy. He is also a former Major from the Military Health Services where he headed the Research and Development Unit. In addition, Dr Ntsobi was the Deputy General Secretary of the South African Security Forces Union (SASFU) whilst still serving in the military. Fancying a different challenge at some point in his career, Dr Ntsobi was recalled to the trade union movement, serving the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) as their national spokesperson and head of administration. His agility and ability to pivot is also one of the reasons he has held various board membership positions, with great ease.
Dr Ntsobi has served on the boards of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), Audit Committee of GGDA, Auto Industry Development Cooperation (AIDC), OR Tambo Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), Dorbyl (Pty) Ltd, and Mtha Aviation (Deputy Chairperson). At a later phase of his career, he joined a family business, namely Vuza Group as its CEO and, later, moved to the position of Chairperson. According to Dr Ntsobi, this business is centred around the logistics and auto conversion space.
Moreover, as a respectable public servant, Dr Ntsobi responded and acted to calls for his return to the public service, as the executive for corporate services at Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA). Then, later, he became the Chief Director for school support at the Gauteng Department of Education. He is now the Acting Deputy Director-General: School Support. In this position, his portfolio includes oversight of the Infrastucture Programme, Pyscho-Social Support, School Health, School Functionality, Learner Transport programme, school nutrition, school safety, sports, culture & creative arts as well as the rollout of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to schools. The latter, having fanned his academic curiosity, propelled his enrolment for a Doctoral qualification at The Da Vinci Institute.
Dr Ntsobi’s Doctoral thesis is titled: Pedagogical Integration of Technology as an Enhancement to Teaching and Learning in Gauteng Public Schools. His thesis is largely inspired by its author’s need to explore how Information Communication Technology (ICT) can be integrated into the daily school activities of Gauteng Public Schools as perceived by educators, heads of departments, and subject advisors.
Dr Ntsobi explains that “the study aimed to explore the degree of the ICT integration within Gauteng Public Schools, the challenges impeding the optimum utilisation of ICT towards curriculum delivery and enabling conditions for ICT rollout in education transformation. Therefore, the study’s objectives were to determine the degree to which individual qualities impact the educator’s preparedness in using ICT for teaching, to ascertain the magnitude preceding ICT skills and computer training affects educators’ preparedness within their teaching environment. Hence, determine how ICT infrastructure affects the educators’ preparedness to integrate ICT technology during teaching.”
According to Dr Ntsobi, various but relevant methods and techniques were utilised to collect the required data to make this study possible. The resulting outcome of his thesis found, “that ICT training affects educators’ preparedness to use ICT resources for curriculum delivery. Training deepens educators’ ICT knowledge and prepares them to apply learned skills. The acquired set of knowledge and skills, in turn, give the educators more confidence in the classroom and competence in teaching the subject content.”
Concurrently, the study makes a recommendation, that is interconnected to, “the need to have regular refresher courses in ICT as the findings revealed that not all educators have good computer skills. Further, there is a need to improve the pace of the rollout of the ICT infrastructure as lack of it negatively affects educators’ preparedness. Above all, the study recommends that the Gauteng Department of Education adopt a multisectoral implementation model for ICT integration. This can improve the integration and adoption of technology for teaching and learning in selected Gauteng public schools. The other element to consider is introducing change management early in the rollout so that educators can adapt to the changing work environment.” The study also came up with a responsive ICT Integration Framework which can be considered as a blueprint for ICT rollout by other provincial education departments.
Everything about Dr Ntsobi’s work ethic and estimable demeanour, points to a man of great resilience. To achieve his apex qualification, Dr Ntsobi went through a series of hardships, after having to abandon his Doctoral studies for six months, from July 2019 until January 2020, owing to his involvement “in a car accident and, as a result, spending two months in hospital. I had to work twice as hard upon resumption but my supervisor, Dr Blondel Nyamkure was very supportive and provided the necessary guidance. The most difficult part was towards the end after getting feedback from the examiners. I have since realised, though, that the academic world can be tougher as there is no place for second-best. It’s either you are there, or you are not there. I am happy that this project too has reached its logical conclusion, and that makes me a better person now.”
The journey doesn’t end here, he says, as it “has taught me to know my priorities and be able to strike a balance between competing interests. It has taught me to pay attention to detail and develop the capacity to think on my feet especially being prepared to engage at any level.” Dr Ntsobi further states that he has set his sharp academic mind to, “pursuing my post-doctoral studies on the management of technology and innovation. I will also be publishing my work in academic journals. [I] will also be presenting in local and international platforms on ICT Integration, adoption and utilisation in the classroom.”
A thought leader in his own right, Dr Ntsobi shares his wisdom to our students by advising them to first identify their purpose and be willing to sacrifice. “It is also important to have a support structure, preferable people who are also pursuing their studies. It’s also important to stick to the implementation plan”, says our generous epitome of greatness.
Dr Mfanelo Patrick Ntsobi, The Da Vinci Institute salutes you and wishes you all the best and we know you will further cultivate your natural talents, while treading your remarkable path forward. May all your future endeavours come to fruition!