Matividi - Mpumalanga's Department of Education has given Bushbuckridge's maths guru a token of appreciation for his voluntary work, aimed at improving the education of pupils in the Ehlazeni District town.This was during the announcement of Mpumalanga's matric results in Matibidi on Friday in which it emerged that Mpumalanga's pass rate decreased from 77.1% to 74.8%.Jerry Mbowane, 59, has been teaching maths and science afternoon classes at his Thulamahashe home under a tree for 28 years.READ: Mpumalanga's teacher-under-a-tree finally gets his classroomEducation MEC Regina Mahaule described Mbowane's work as a patriotic gesture and a true sacrifice that should not go unnoticed."We feel honoured and privileged to acknowledge his contribution within the province. For his remarkable, generous contribution [to] maths and science, we will bring him closer to work with us," Mahaule said.The MEC also mentioned that the department intended to have Mbowane work with 101 maths, science and technology (MST) schools to help improve their results in 2018."This year we want to intensify the level of mathematics and we need him to help meet our goal because he is just a blessing," Mahaule said.Mbowane responded that the department's praise was the best honour he could ever receive in his lifetime. READ: Home teaching maths guru lands big sponsorship"I have been working individually for a very long time, and now I am going to be working in conjunction with the Department of Education. It has always been a dream of mine for decades. When a child is making a difference in the community, it can only have [an] impact when the parents acknowledge and approve [it]. For me the Department of Education in Mpumalanga feels like a parent to me," he said.Mbowane added that he was happy for the pupils he tutored during the year - most of whom passed with distinctions."There are so many kids I have been working with during 2017. Some [are] from poor backgrounds, but did not let their challenges hinder their pass rate. It goes to show that our combined effort did not go unnoticed."