Mpumalanga's teacher-under-a-tree finally gets his classroom

2017-07-27 10:29
Jerry Mbowane (Yvonne Silaule, News24 Correspondent)

Jerry Mbowane (Yvonne Silaule, News24 Correspondent)

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Bushbuckridge - Mpumalanga maths guru Jerry Mbowane was on Wednesday handed the classroom where he can finally share his passion with schoolchildren.

Mbowane, 58, spent more than two decades giving afternoon maths and science classes under a tree in the yard of his family's home in Thulamahashe.

"I have no words to describe the joy I feel today," he said at the official handing over of the Caltex Academy of Maths and Science, at Zwide Primary School. It is within walking distance of Mbowane's home.

"It's good to know that there won't be any worry for me and my kids about the change of weather at any given day. Now we have shelter and we have equipment to work with."

Mbowane had been teaching about 70 pupils under his tree. In the mornings, he visited government schools around Bushbuckridge to teach.

He has managed to produce distinctions in both maths and science. He believes that if one has a light, they should let it shine on others.

Petrochemicals company Caltex provided Mbowane with a R150 000 sponsorship. This will provide him with a place to teach, and stationery.

Teaching at the academy was meant to have started in January, but was delayed after the school decided to make more space available to accommodate it.

This meant reworking the contract between the school and the academy, Caltex's financial and logistics director Arnold le Roux explained.

He said Mbowane deserves to work in a well-equipped classroom.

"We had to step in and do something after reading his stories in newspapers. He is doing a good job and should not be left to do it alone, because the children are our future."

From left to right: Jerry Mbowane with the Caltex team Rina Groves, Janitta Pieterse and Dr Moon Omar. (Yvonne Silaule, News24 Correspondent)

A 'community developer'

Mbowane says he is grateful that the company, which is passionate about maths and science, is helping him.

"The thought that we had to be under the tree to exchange knowledge was always nothing compared to the vision I have of eliminating poverty in my community."

He grew up knowing that no matter how poor someone is, a matric with good marks in mathematics and science can help them improve their life.

"Mathematics and science have been dismissed as difficult subjects. I have always had the passion to remove the stubbornness of the stigma behind the two subjects, because I understand the great results that come with good results."

ALSO READ: SA pupils among lowest 5 in the world in maths, science

His plan is to capture minds at a young age, because once children are older, it is hard to get them interested in maths and science.

Mbowane is grateful to his family for helping to feed his pupils and allowing him to hold his lessons in the house during bad weather.

His sister, Christine Mbowane, says her brother is a "community developer".

Zwide Primary School's principal, Orde Ndubane, says children need extra lessons in maths and science as these are important when applying to university.

"It is great thing to see our community developing this way and we are glad that Caltex was there to back Mbowane to assist our children progress in mathematics. We are struggling as teachers sometimes, to break the science stigma."

Read more on:    mbombela  |  good news  |  education

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