PhD a family affair
The death of his wife and separation from his children while he studied in another country did not deter Philip Bulawa from gaining his Doctor of Philosophy from the School of Education at James Cook University.
Dr Bulawa’s graduation on Saturday (April 14) was a special celebration for nine of his close-knit extended family, including his nine-year-old daughter Tapiwa, who travelled with him from Botswana to attend the ceremony in Townsville.
His Principal Supervisor Dr Josephine Balatti said Dr Bulawa started his PhD in 2007, funded by the University of Botswana where he is a staff member.
“Tragically his wife died after a very short and unexpected illness within the first six months of his arrival at James Cook University,” she said.
“Philip’s family rallied to his assistance and his wife’s sister and husband looked after his daughter, little Tapiwa who was less than four years old at the time.
“One of Philip’s sisters took care of his son Mbakiso who had just started university.
“Philip’s commitment to his goal remained strong, if not even stronger, after his tragic loss and was fuelled by the encouragement of his extended family in Botswana.”
Dr Bulawa completed his thesis and returned to Botswana in December 2010 where he lectures in Education Management at the University of Botswana which sponsored his stay in Townsville.
His thesis “Implementation of the Performance Management System in Senior Secondary Schools in Botswana: The Perspective of the Senior Management Team” is dedicated to his late wife Agnes “Agie” and his late daughter Chendzimu who died nine years before he came to JCU.
“Their untimely deaths broke my heart. I can only wish they were here now. I will forever miss them. I dedicate this research to these two wonderful people that I loved so much,” he said.
“My two children Mbakiso and Tapiwa endured almost four years of my absence and I am genuinely grateful for their patience.
“It was difficult for them, especially the little one, but I brought them here at the end of 2009 for a visit and they appreciated why I was here studying.
“Many people at James Cook University supported me and assisted me in completing this work. I sincerely thank my Principal Supervisor Dr Josephine Balatti and my Co-Supervisors Dr Pauline Taylor and Professor Colin Lankshear for their guidance, feedback and support.”
Dr Bulawa said he searched on the internet for a place where the courses and location would be relevant to his work and decided on James Cook University.
His study investigated why the globally recognised performance management system had not been fully adopted in the education sector in Botswana and made recommendations on how it could be introduced successfully.
“The JCU program was very relevant to what I wanted to do and I have had a wonderful university experience here in Townsville,” he said.
“The way the supervisors take care of their students is fabulous and I am finding what I learnt here very useful in how I guide and supervise my students in Botswana.”
Issued April 17, 2012
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