‘Isibaya’ actress Thuli Thabethe hits back at #CelebritiesAreNotTeachers backlash

'Isibaya' actress Thuli Thabethe hits back at #CelebritiesAreNotTeachers backlash

Isibaya actress Thuli Thabethe has weighed in on the ongoing debate about the department of education’s online reading campaign, defending her participation in the project.

The initiative by Africa Teen Geeks, in partnership with department of basic education (DBE), made lessons available on online platforms. However, social media critics managed to make #CelebritiesAreNotTeachers trend earlier this week.

In a statement this week, the organisation said only qualified teachers and student teachers were recruited for the programme, and celebrities were just part of a reading club for children in grades R to 3.

Speaking to Daily Sun, Thuli expressed how conflicted she was by the backlash and believes there is a difference between reading and teaching to children.

“I understand the outcry but I also don’t. There is a huge difference between reading and teaching. When Gcina Mhlophe does a Readathon in September, people tell children not to make noise, but why are they making noise when we are reading during the lockdown?

“I think teachers are embarrassed and are questioning what they were doing in the two weeks before the lockdown was extended.”

Thuli is not the only celeb who had to defend herself from the backlash, and radio personality Penny Lebyane stood firm by the reading gig.

Earlier this week Penny took to Twitter and explained a little bit more about what the campaign was all about.

“It’s not a DBE campaign, it’s endorsed by the department. It’s an Africa Teen Geeks project and no celebs are teaching; actual tutors are teaching then celebrities are reading and creating awareness about the #lockdowndigitalschool which is free online daily on YouTube.”

She felt that many were barking up the wrong tree by calling celebs out for wanting to replace teachers. Penny reassured the critics that she was supporting teaching and reading, as it was a crucial aspect in children’s growth.

“I’m not money, not everyone has to like me. I like myself, damn no, I love myself. I never stop a teacher from teaching. I’m supporting teaching and reading. I’m even saying parents must read for their kids. It’s a good thing I’m doing.”

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