Emmanuel Kubwange started his schooling in Rwanda, but because of the ongoing conflicts, was forced to relocate to a refugee camp in Tanzania.
Then it was Malawi, then Mozambique, then Zimbabwe, before he finally settled in Australia seven years ago.
One of the constants in Mr Kubwange’s life – and his most positive experience during time in refugee camps – was school.
“One of the consistent, positive experiences was learning, experiencing success, being appreciated and being empowered by knowing that I am learning and improving,” Mr Kubwange says.
Despite his education being profoundly disrupted, when Mr Kubwange arrived in Australia at 19, he graduated from year 12 with an ATAR of 97, then studied a bachelor of commerce and science before completing a masters of education two years ago. The Melton Secondary College teacher says he wants to inspire and motivate young people.
“I’m a product of every disadvantage you can imagine – I’ve been a refugee, a migrant, in every [low] socio-economic situation you can imagine … when my family came to Australia, we had to start from zero – from nothing, to going to school, going to university.
“Just because you’re identifying as someone from a lower socio-economic background, doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance.”
Mr Kubwange’s story will be aired in a three-part SBS documentary on Wednesday nights.
Testing Teachers follows six first-time teachers over 12 months at some of the country’s most disadvantaged schools. The first episode will be aired 8.30pm, April 19.