For several years Masicorp has run a program to provide additional maths tuition to Masiphumelele High School learners, with the help of volunteer Mr Rob Douglas, a mathematics teacher from nearby Fish Hoek High School. This year Rob has started running an additional after school class on Thursdays. The sessions are run at Fish Hoek High thanks to funding from Masicorp that provides transport for the learners from Masiphumelele.
Rob’s counterpart at Masiphumelele High, Mr Mlandu, has offered the classes to his learners and arranges for about 20 students to attend each week. A few learners from Fish Hoek High also attend but the large majority of the class travel from Masiphumelele. The classes are voluntary, but are popular with those students who are keen to improve their maths grades. With mathematics remaining a problem subject area in South Africa this is an important initiative.
The learners from Masiphumelele get the advantage of Rob’s time, as well as some of his Fish Hoek colleagues and Mr Mlandu, as well as the benefits of a small class with excellent teaching facilities. Each week Mr Mlandu suggests particular problem areas in the curriculum that the class have struggled with and Rob takes them through some examples. Actual questions from past exam papers are worked through with guidance from the teaching volunteers.
As with the Saturday morning sessions, the extra tuition for the Masi High students can only help improve their Matric prospects and their willingness to attend these after school sessions a testament to the quality of education on offer and their positive attitude toward learning. Once again we have to thank the staff at both schools for making this hugely important project happen.
Earlier this year we reported that the maths lab at Ukhanyo School was ready to receive learners. Thanks to the generous contributions of our donors and the skilled craftsmanship of Masicorp volunteer Paul Dibble, the Lab environment is inviting and comfortable and we are pleased to report that good progress continues to be made.
In May we were able to hire a full-time Maths Lab Assistant, Nokathula Gomba, (Thula). Thula is from the local community and has experience as an after-school maths mentor. She hopes to have a teaching career in the future and is seen here in the lab with Laurie.
Each morning four sections of grade 4 learners spend 45-50 minutes in the Lab with their teacher, Scott or Laurie, together with Thula. The aim is to demonstrate that efficiency of learning, knowledge retention, and even student behaviour improve directly as classroom instruction shifts from a teacher-centric to a student-centric model. All 240 grade 4 learners are taken through the same curriculum, and each teacher gets to observe lessons taught by Scott or Laurie. Later in the same week, they teach the lessons that they have observed and grow in their own teaching skills.
It has been pleasing to see the teachers rearrange their own classrooms to emulate the Maths Lab setup, so that they can circulate and observe learner progress more readily. Scott and Laurie recently returned from a four week winter break in the US and found that the Maths Lab was being used effectively with the teachers following the lesson plans that had been left in place. In particular Zama Maqwathini (seen here with his class) has demonstrated a lot of energy and excitement about this new experience. In the first week after the return of Scott and Laurie he was ready to teach a lesson to his 2nd section of students, after watching Scott model the lesson with his 1st section. However, he asked if he could modify the lesson slightly and greatly improved the learning experience with his ideas.
This first half of year has been more challenging than expected, with delays in setting up and acquiring classroom materials, but the rewards have far exceeded our hopes. Our thanks go out to the many donors that have helped to fund this ambitious project.
Babalwa Mtshawuli was born in Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape where she completed her primary schooling. She decided to move to Masiphumelele at the age of 14 in pursuit of a better education and stayed with her aunt while completing her matric at the high school. She knew from as early as grade 9 that she wanted to work in a position that would allow her to give back to the community and was initially attracted to social work.
Babalwa later applied to join the Masicorp bursary scheme on the advice of several older students who she knew had participated in previous years. By this time her career planning had turned to working in a health facility. She arrived for an interview with an impressive set of high school results, particularly in the difficult subject areas of mathematics and physics. She had received an offer to study nursing at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the interview panel was pleased to offer her a bursary to being study in 2011.
After four years of excellent theoretical grades and practical classes Babalwa graduated in March of this year. She is currently working at Alexander Psychiatric Hospital in Maitland as a sister in charge of one the wards. Some of her best grades during the four years of study were achieved in psychiatric nursing and this is an area she has happily specialised in during her work. If time and money allow she would like to continue studying psychiatric nursing at masters level, and she is currently considering the possibility of taking a part time course.
Babalwa has now moved out of Masiphumelele and has been sharing a flat with other nurses close to the hospital in Maitland. However, she is regularly in touch with Masicorp and has generously offered to speak about her experiences on occasions such as our recent event at the British High Commission. We were particularly pleased to see her at the recent graduation ceremony for the Evangeline Ministries / Masicorp life skills course, Babalwa was the guest speaker for the event and is seen here presenting the students with their completion certificates.
Babalwa has been an excellent student and has made the best of the bursary opportunity provided. We look forward to keeping in touch with her in the years to come as her career in nursing continues