Education is not the whole key

Several activists and leaders have often cited that education is the key to success, with Mandela the figure head for his rendition of this sentiment on 16th July 2003, when he said, “Education is the most powerful part of that world changing arsenal”. In the Americas, a prominent civil rights activist also contributed with the following words “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who are prepared for it today”. Martin Luther King also valued education and described as a practice of teaching people to think critically.

My stature in society does not allow me to play critic to words said by great men. I only hope to build a good enough argument to bring to light, that success is not a given once you have attained a formal education.

Mr. Toastmaster, fellow members, thank you for this highest of privileges.

I will start my argument by asking a question. What is success? A quick google search comes up with the following definition:

The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

With this definition I can argue that success in the South African context is:

  • A stable income, doing a job you love with a career ahead of you
  • A nice house in a safe and quiet neighborhood
  • A car, flash and fast or maybe safe and modest
  • Traveling to another continent or country
  • Or simply having enough time to develop a hobby

Our dreams can be easily accessed through education, we have been told. Go to a reputable institute of learning, get your mind molded into an unstoppable force of nature. Then you will be able to reach you dreams, we have been assured.

But even this most modest of dreams cannot be made real by education alone. I pose the following examples from an article in the Mail & Guardian titled “Graduates and their unemployment dilemma “

  • A geology major from the University of Western Cape who has been looking for work since he graduated with his Honours in 2011 and now works as a teacher.
  • A lady who holds a diploma in media and advertising from Boston Media House College who also graduated in 2011. She speaks on the abuse in her industry and little opportunity.
  • Then Seema, her story resonated with me the most. The first and only university graduate in her family. In her eyes she saw herself as her family’s last hope at a decent life. With a BSc in Molecular and Life Science from the University of Limpopo, she was not off the mark, nor was she gambling her future. She made a calculated risk. But for her and others in this list, the odds were not in their favour.

According to the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey, 130200 graduates were unemployed as of Q1 in 2019 from total of 6.2 million people. This explains where Seema falls into the cracks. I now allude you a contrasting story of Mantombi.  In 2019 she graduated from the University of Pretoria with a BSc in Biochemistry. She also found herself without a job for couple of months. This is the reality of South Africa’s youth.

But she used her resources to generate income and to continue circulating her CV to big and small pharmaceutical firms and labs. She landed a position at a Youth employment accelerator program called Harambe as an administrator. But she wanted something in her field, so she fixed her LinkedIn account and reach out to her network. She asked family and friends to help her look and she never gave up hope. She has since moved from her initial job and is now an intern at Synaxus where she is gathering skills to become a Clinical research associate.

Mantombi is my partner and I saw her become more resilient with each challenge. She had a degree, but she also had a goal to achieve outside of that.  Character is not one of the modules in Biochemistry.

Education is not the entire story of success.  It is simply the introduction; it is where we start to fulfill our purpose. And since we are the authors of our own stories, we simply cannot afford to stop on the introduction.

The body is written down by doing the best you can do right now. Ambitious goals require you to stand to intolerable amounts of pain.  They require a continuous monotonous consistence. They also require wells of patience.

For you to make real that house with a beautiful stop- nonsense, you must first lay down a good foundation of dedication to your cause. A dedication that spans decades and even an entire lifetime.  Add discipline into the formula as you cannot wait for the lighting of inspiration to strike for, if you don’t you will waste your life starring up at the sky.

I will close by saying, Education is a map. Become a navigator and chart your way to your success.

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How to conclude your speech

Public speaking can be daunting for most people. However, knowing how to structure your speech can help ease the nerves.  The beginning and conclusion of your speech are important as they’re a great opportunity to set the tone and leave a lasting impression. Here’s some tips shared by Rudo Motsi on How to conclude your speech:

  • A quote at the end of your speeches adds authority, but it must be relevant to your speech
  • Have a short story at the end of your speech (it can be personal)
  • Call to action – your audience must know what you expect them to do at the end of your speech
  • Rhetorical questions at the end forces the audience to think
  • Link the beginning of your speech to the end to add emphasis on points made
  • Summarise all important points to reinforce the message
  • Memorise your conclusion
  • Do not add any additional points

“Great is the art of beginning but greater is the art of the ending” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Pretoria East Toastmasters Christmas Ghost Evening

Our annual Christmas Ghost competition evening was a great success last night! We had a great social event with three completely different and most entertaining ghost stories which contributed to a lively competition. We had visiting Toastmasters from a sister club, Scientia, so it was a good time to catch up and compare notes. Our guests, including Mrs Bones Skel Eton!, were treated to an evening out of the ordinary with a recess during which we could chat and enjoy special eats provided by the members. A lovely way to end our Toastmasters year and we look forward to a fresh start in 2020.

We wish all our members, guests and those of you thinking about involving yourselves in this great organization, a wonderful and safe festive season! So until next time………

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Pretoria East Club Meeting “The One Thing That Changed Everything”

This was the theme of our meeting on 27 November 2019 and it certainly gives food for thought. We had a lot of contributions to this theme involving food which had been tried by our participants, and who vowed never to revisit the experience, as well as various sports activities and chance encounters which impacted on several lives.

Table Topics, our impromptu speaking section, meant that three members had to tell us without prior preparation, how they would control geriatric pilots flying themselves to the supermarket in drones in the year 2085, what would an alien think a serviette dispenser would be used for when coming across it for the first time, and a card with a saying on was selected from a pack and the participant had to speak about what was written on it. Each person had a nerve-wracking 1 – 2 minutes to fill with their take on their particular subject! To help us afterwards, and to give us all some useful tips, was Chris Callaghan who gave us an educational on how to best tackle Table Topics in order to achieve the best results.

We followed this with three prepared speeches. The first one was a most insightful 7 minutes about Communism, the second shared the speaker’s thoughts on waiting for exam results and our third was an advanced presentation speech given by a visiting Toastmaster, covering the sales pitch for a brand of coffee. So a most interesting and entertaining evening for speakers and audience.

We ended off the evening with extremely constructive evaluations and criticism and so it was as always, a great, interactive and entertaining meeting. We are all looking forward to 11 December, our last meeting for the year and the time for our annual Christmas Ghost competition! Competitors are in the starting blocks and we look forward to a ‘ghostly time’ with appropriate ghostly gear and eats!

So until next time, keep communicating and let speech be the wind beneath your wings!

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Toastmasters Pretoria East 20th Birthday Bash Meeting!! 25-09-2019

Our meeting on 25 September was combined with our 20th birthday celebrations!

25 members and guests joined us for the evening with a wonderful half hour recess in the middle during which we could enjoy celebratory chocolate ganache and carrot cake, pizza, coffee and tea and great conversation! (Please go to our gallery for the photos!)

After the introduction of our guests, Marina ran the Table Topics or impromptu speech session. Our random participants had to speak ‘off the cuff’ for one to two minutes about their thoughts and conversation relating to a  mystery guest who was revealed to them in a picture. They could not let the audience know who the guest was until the end of the session. The three mystery diners, who were actually attending a dinner table in the pictures, were revealed as:  a giraffe, a horse and a baboon!

We had three speeches as well, two Icebreaker or first speeches and a more advanced speech so an interesting variety of experience and topics.

Our grammarian introduced the word ‘credence‘ with an explanation and examples and encouraged us to use this throughout the meeting wherever possible. This certainly helps to open our minds and increase variety in our use of the English language.

The timekeeper and ah counter kept us all on time and very aware and conscious of our ‘word whiskers’!

A very special note goes to our long standing and extremely competent member and present Treasurer, Niel Malan, who has achieved the highest award as a Distinguished Toastmaster!! Congratulations Niel!!!    We all know how much dedication and hard work has gone into reaching this level and we appreciate your help as we each strive to attain this goal as well.

Our Humorous and Evaluation competitions are coming up soon in October so we are looking forward to a busy few weeks ahead!

Well, this ends our meeting summary so am signing off until our next meeting on 9 October. Usual venue and time as outlined in our events and calendar pages. Looking forward to welcoming you there!!!


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‘Life Long Learning’

A vibrant and interesting meeting once again, on the 18th September 2019, with a variety of topics coming to the fore through speeches, Table topics and Introduction of members. We had 20 people at the meeting with a lot of ‘first timers’ and repeat guests so all were made to feel welcome and included in the proceedings.

Tying in with our theme, Marina told the story of an eagle egg which a farmer found and placed under a chicken. The egg hatched and the eagle lived it’s life with the farmyard hens learning to cluck and scratch and occasionally flapping its wings, rising slightly in the air. One day it saw a magnificent bird flying high above and on querying who it was, was told that the bird was an eagle, the king of all the birds. It belonged to the sky just as the farmyard chickens belonged to the land. The young eagle on the ground was in awe. So the years passed and the eagle grew old clucking and scratching in the farmyard, and it lived and died a chicken because that was what he thought he was.

Undoubtedly food for thought.

Table topics, our impromptu speaking session, was great fun. Niel Malan hosted this portion and had slips of paper, one batch with products written on such as steak and shoes and the other batch of slips with a variety of well known brands such as Nike and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Participants were picked at random and each had to pick one slip from each batch ending up with one brand and one product. By combining the two slips the challenge was to try and explain why, for example, Kentucky Fried Chicken was now diversifying into producing shoes or why Nike was producing steaks and burgers! All ‘off the cuff’ within a time limit of 1 to 2 minutes, most with hilarious results!

We had 2 speeches, an excellent IceBreaker’ or first speech given by Riaan Van Wyk, revealing a very interesting career as a forensic scientist, and his life experiences. Our other speech was from the very experienced Niel Malan (Distinguished Toastmaster) covering the topic of Investment vs Speculation.

So altogether a smooth event with a few last minute changes covered by more than capable and willing members. Thinking on our feet and improvising is certainly one of the skills we get to hone at Toastmasters!

The next meeting is on the 25th September and it will be our 20th Birthday Bash!!! So cake and pizza, coffee and conversation and a great meeting no doubt, so please feel free to join us and I am looking forward to catching up with you all after that!

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Awaken the Giant Within

28 August 2019

Another fun and informative evening enjoyed by all 17 guests and members in attendance.

Karen Erasmus chaired our member introduction with the theme ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ and we were all encouraged to share our personal giants and how this would impact on our futures.

The impromptu speaking section, Table Topics, was chaired by Alec Maskrey and it certainly had a twist! Four members were called up at random and had to sit in front of the lectern on four chairs. They were asked to close their eyes and listen to the sound of the aircraft in which they were travelling as it developed a mechanical problem – in fact it was revealed that the wing had fallen off! Each member was assigned one role: a philanthropist, a professor with a cancer cure, a war veteran who had saved a town and a child whose parents had been killed in front of her. They then had to convince all the other passengers that the one parachute on board, should be theirs, as their life was the most worthy of saving. What an ‘off the cuff’ task to accomplish in the allotted 2 minutes, some with hilarious results! Brilliantly chaired by Alec and eloquently evaluated by Stirling Gapara during the evaluation section.

We had three great speakers, all at different levels of experience, and topics ranged from ‘Personalised Nutrition’ to ‘A Strong Start’ about foetal alcoholism. So a very interesting segment of the evening indeed.

Karen Erasmus was the General Evaluator, covering the whole meeting. This was her first attempt at the role which she handled with confidence, sharing constructive observations and tips.

Niel Malan was the ‘glue’ and stepped in at the last minute as our very experienced Toastmaster, keeping all the various segments running smoothly after each other once again.

Our two lovely ‘Wooden Spooners’, mum and daughter Karen and Lene Erasmus, kept us in giggles as they explained and filled their roles with a few faux pas along the way!!

Looking forward to our next meeting!

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Toastmasters, contest time approaching!

Calling all members!!!

Hone your speaking skills and start to prepare for our club contest in October. Humorous and Table Topics categories are waiting for you, so start preparing to win! Keep an eye on our events calendar.

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Training session – Wow!

All toastmaster clubs have a committee made up of volunteer members and we, Pretoria East, had our committee member training session on Saturday. Wow what an education! I never realised that, by joining Toastmasters, I would be exposed to, and have access to such a high standard of motivational training and information. As I tried to absorb all of this, I kept on thinking that the information I was being handed at the session, would be invaluable in every aspect of my professional and personal life. What a gift!!

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Last night at the meeting

Toastmasters is not only about giving speeches and talking, but we certainly need to think on our feet as well. All skills in this regard were called upon last night as we arrived to find a foreign group of people happily ensconced in our usual venue! Amazingly we all managed to relocate and find each other, and our guests, in the alternate hall nestled in the furthest extremities of the church complex. Everyone jumped in to help and we eventually started only 7 minutes late settling in to enjoy a great interactive meeting!.

Great to see we had several guests joining us, and one visiting Toastmaster from Uganda resulting in all seats occupied! After initial introductions we headed into Table Topics (quick impromptu speeches) and then to four very different levels of prepared speeches including two Icebreaker (first) speeches of a very high standard which set the pace. A brief interruption ensued when one member arrived late, understandably so considering all the venue confusion, and he found himself on the wrong side of a fingerprint recognition keypad and consequently locked out! Tea and coffee recess, although short, was a great time to mingle, catch up and try to locate the restrooms set in the wings on either side of an enormous stage!

Evaluations and award presentations for well deserving participants ended the meeting on a good note and many people made time to linger and chat afterwards.

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