Self-Drive Earns 65-Year-Old College Principal her PhD in Education
Soon-to-retire Principal at Teacher Education College in Zimbabwe, Dr Petty Silitshena beamed with pride when she graduated with her PhD in Education at the age of 65.
After years of contemplating and seeing that age was catching up with her, she finally decided to enrol for her doctorate at UKZN, a decision she never thought she was brave enough to make.
‘I have wanted to do this for some time and emulate my late husband, Professor Robson Silitshena and children who have studied to a professorial level, but I never had the drive until one day, an inner voice finally pushed me to get it done. After all, imfundo ayikhulelwa (one is never too old to learn),’ said Silitshena.
Her PhD research study analysed employee motivation models on organisational performance in government primary teacher education colleges in Zimbabwe.
The major study findings revealed that all levels of motivation influenced employees. It was, however, affirmed that employees were by and large influenced by the system and process model, rather than by the personal-needs model. There was limited knowledge of the personal-needs model both from an operational level and from documented literature. This led to a lack of balance between the system and the process models of motivation.
Reflecting on her PhD and life’s journey, she said: ‘Age is just a number, this milestone in my life at my age is proof that you can do whatever you set your mind to and excel at it. I am turning 65 in December and will be retiring soon but I did not let that deter me from my goal.
‘It is not a road without challenges, but I took those as opportunities and soldiered on,’ she added.
Silitshena is grateful for the support from her children; nephew, Professor Mabutho Sibanda (Dean and Head of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance); and supervisor, Professor Simon Khoza who was patient with her as she walked her PhD journey.
She plans to open a consultancy company after retirement and use her research to teach others.
Words: Lungile Ngubelanga
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan