Top notch maths teachers for rural schools

2013-08-25 06:01

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Growing up in Venda and Mpumalanga, Enos Makhubu learnt first hand what it’s like to go to school in rural South Africa.

That’s why Makhubu seized the opportunity to turn his four tertiary qualifications and a passion for maths into a job at Kutlwanong’s JC Motumi Secondary School in the Free State.

He is one of the first maths teachers to be placed at a rural school through a partnership between the SA Maths Foundation and Harmony Gold.

The foundation and the mining giant joined forces to train and place good maths teachers at schools across the country that are struggling to raise pupils’ marks in this crucial subject.

South Africa is currently ranked among the worst-performing countries in the world when it comes to maths and science results.

The foundation’s project manager, Patrick Rasehwete, said the Harmony Adopted Schools Project sprang from an existing partnership between the foundation and the mining company – Harmony Gold sponsors the annual SA Mathematics Olympiad, which the foundation organises.

The project is about teaching maths in an “intensive and interesting” way, he said.

Harmony Gold and the foundation hope that pupils involved in the project will end up pursuing careers in maths-related fields like engineering, science and technology.

Makhubu has already started work at JC Motumi, where he is teaching Grade 8.

He wasn’t always a maths teacher: He holds a BSc in applied and pure mathematics, a BComm in business management, a national diploma in mine engineering and a postgraduate certificate in education.

After working in the financial industry for some years, he decided to try a new career.

“I want to be able to bring change,” he said.

Before he joined JC Motumi, the school had only two Grade 8 maths teachers for its five Grade 8 classes.

In June, just 48% of the Grade 8s passed maths.

Lekgetho Mahoko, the school’s principal, said teachers and pupils alike were responding well to Makhubu’s appointment and had already asked him to help with extra Saturday lessons.

Another teacher, Olatunde Oluwasesan Osiyemi, will start his new job at AB Phokompe Secondary School in Mahlakeng near Randfontein in Gauteng in September.

“I have taught in a few schools so I don’t think this will be any different,” said Oluwasesan, who is originally from Nigeria. He holds a national and higher national diploma in mechanical engineering, a diploma in teaching – majoring in maths and science – and an honours degree in teaching.

He is currently doing a master’s degree in education through the University of Fort Hare and is a member of the Association for Mathematics Education of SA.

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