Youth Day

16 June 2024

Journey With Us and Thabani Mkhize

“It is important to dream – with our eyes wide open – so that we can see
where we are going, and how to find our way” ~ Thabani Mkhize


Through its Touching Lives Programme partner, EnviroLearn, N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) was privileged to be introduced to Thabani Mkhize, a young educator at Weston Agricultural College on the outskirts of Mooi River in rural KwaZulu-Natal. The College prides itself that it educates learners for life and most recently, Thabani was awarded the school’s ‘Most Inspiring Educator’ award.

As a life sciences educator, with a passion for learning, Thabani was selected to attend EnviroLearn’s educator skills development programme. As a member of the countrywide Fundisa for Change Network, EnviroLearn aims to develop the competencies and confidence of science and environmental educators in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands region. “We offer a variety of skills development courses varying from natural sciences, agriculture, food security, water conservation, geography, and many more,” explains Janet Snow, head of EnviroLearn.

Through N3TC’s Touching Lives Programme, we support EnviroLearn’s programmes, and this is also how our path crossed with Thabani Mkhize’s,” explains Thania Dhoogra, chief operating officer of N3 Toll Concession. “His unwavering commitment to education and the development of young people is a shining example to all.”

“I am passionate about developing people, lifelong learning, and encouraging others to believe in their abilities, and work hard in pursuit of their dreams,” says Mr Mkhize.


“I owe a debt of gratitude to my father, Mr Mandlenkosi Mkhize. He instilled good, solid life principles in me, and from a very young age taught me that success is 5% brains and 95% perseverance and consistency. From him, I learned that you don’t have to go fast to achieve success. Learning is a lifelong journey, and never to give up, especially if you fail at first. There are lessons to be learned from every failure. The trick is to dust yourself off and to come back stronger the next day.”

Thabani Mkhize was born in KwaMashu, Durban in 1994 – the same year as the birth of the New South Africa.  “Perhaps as a result of this, I strongly believe in the spirit of our nation – the resilience of the human spirit – and the principles of Ubuntu. It is our unique sense of togetherness that unites and binds us. We should cherish it.”


Growing up, he dreamt of becoming a farmer. “I remember it as a fierce desire from a very young age. Consequently, my parents enrolled me in an agricultural high school for my senior school years.

“When I was young, I saw my parents struggling to make ends meet while giving us – their children –  the keys to help open the doors to our futures.  As a result, I felt it my responsibility to reward their efforts with good grades.”

After matriculating in 2011 from the James Nxumalo Agricultural High School in Ulundi, Mr Mkhize went on to graduate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with a BSc in Agriculture (Animal and Poultry Science). He has since completed various short courses in education methods and classroom management, environmental sciences, biodiversity, protection of water resources, and agriculture to enhance his knowledge and build on his skill set. He is also looking forward to pursuing a Master’s degree next year.

“My passion for education was first stirred during my high school years. I was helping my fellow learners to solve maths and science problems, when I realised I loved it and wanted to do more – this is how ‘Thabani’s After School Extra Classes’ was born.”


Today, Mr Mkhize is thankful to his schoolmates. “I experienced such a sense of achievement when their confidence and grades improved that I now believe it was their support and willingness to learn that laid the groundwork for me to become an educator.”

Apart from his peers, his teachers also played an important role to help him discover his unique abilities. “They made me aware of what I am capable of, helped to keep me motivated, and instilled a work ethic in me – I wanted to work hard to achieve my dreams.

My qualifications, profession, and further education continue to keep me focused. It is an honour to combine my desire for lifelong learning with my interests in teaching, innovation, the environment, indigenous knowledge, and agriculture.”

Life never stops teaching, hence we never stop learning

“Hard times have taught me to remain dedicated to my goals and dreams. Never stop believing. If you put in the hours, and the effort, life will reward you. We are capable of everything we desire, regardless of our diverse backgrounds.”

“Education is the most powerful weapon we have to change the world. With a positive mindset, resilience and adaptability we can overcome our hardships and thrive. Focus on developing your skills and interests. It will not only make you happy, it will also open doors to various career opportunities – this is how simple it is to ‘write’ your own success story.”

He says it excites and motivates him to notice how young people are taking responsibility for their futures. “It makes me want to be part of their movement. I am eager to go the extra mile for them, and to join their journey to success.”

“Thabani Mkhize teaches us that we each hold a wealth of power within ourselves. Once we unlock our potential there is no stopping us from succeeding. Thank you for paving the way for our youth and future generations to come,” ends Ms Dhoogra.