Ms Phuti Ragophala

“The moment we become comfortable with community challenges we lose humanity” Phuti Ragophala

What drives you to innovate?

Finding yourself being surrounded by challenges sharpens your mind. My level of love for education, empathy, energy and passion propels me towards helping needy learners and community members. As such that makes me get out of my comfort zone and to continue making education fashionable and a tool to fight ignorance, poverty and unemployment.

I am driven by the challenges that community members are facing. I am unable to sit back and relax when I see other people suffering. This made me start my NPO called Phuti Training and Motivational Speaking, after my retirement as an educator.

What do you aim to achieve with your NPO?

The aim of the NPO is to address the challenges of digital illiteracy. The 4th Industrial revolution is a buzz word as such learners and educators need to be equal to the task in digital skills to enhance teaching and learning.

We will not be able to acquire digital skills without getting the basics right. These include reading with understanding and writing legibly and enhancing food production. Generally, we are not a reading nation. My aim is to groom a nation of readers because readers are leaders. In 2017 I launched a community reading club project to inspire young authors.

Our focus is to improve the ability of learners to write legibly.

I also use my backyard garden to teach children how to produce their own food using available natural resources.

Ms Phuti Ragophala says teaching is very close to her heart

Looking back at your journey as a public sector innovator, what challenges did you encounter?

The journey of being an innovator is not easy and it is very tough especially in the public sector. It needs a leader who is decisive and takes risks even if that makes you is unpopular. One example is during my tenure as a school principal in 2006 after finding out that Oprah Winfrey is going to open a new school for girls in South Africa, I tempered with the language policy of the school where the use of English became a medium of instruction for learners from Grade R to 7. This almost cost me my job. However, out of this unpopular idea, five girls from the school were admitted to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls SA. I am proud that today these learners are the pride of their communities.

Innovation needs people to go the extra mile in what they do. They need to be passionate and empathetic.

In your view, what impedes innovation in the public sector?

Rigid policies, top-down approach of doing things, lack of succession planning and a one-size-fits-all approach, are on the top of my list.

What are you concluding remarks?

 Based on my experience in the education sector, I have two key recommendations. School principals need to be appointed on merit and we need to introduce subjects normally taught at technical schools from as early as grade 6.

This will allow learners with creative and innovative minds to start honing their talents as early as possible.

What Awards and Accolades did you receive after you were recognised by the CPSI

 Accolades are a cherry on top. The main thing is to change the lives of needy people through education. After being recognized by CPSI in 2010, I had several awards bestowed on me:

Year Award/Accolade
2011 Limpopo Office of Premier Excellence Award
2011 ISPA Super Teacher of the Year by COZA CARES
2012 South African Hero by E-TV
2014 Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE)
2015 Most Influential Woman in Africa Award by CEO
2015 Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE)
2016 Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert(MIEE)
2016 Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow


EDU_Week SABC Education Life time achievement Award
2016 Women in Government by Regional Business Achievers Award
2016 SADTU Leadership Award
2016 Women in Government by Regional Business Achievers Award
2017 Fellowship status from Africa Federation of Teaching Regulatory Authorities
2017 Indian Government in Mumbai Leadership Award
2017 Varkey foundation Top 50 Global Teacher Prize Finalist
2018 Top 50 Inspiring Women in Technology
2018 Femina Woman Super Achiever Award
2019 Kader Asmal Award
2019 6th  World Education Congress Education Leadership Award
2020 Kader Asmal Silver Award



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