Bushbuckridge - For the past 24 years maths guru Jerry Mbowane, 57, has been helping young people achieve their goals of becoming doctors and engineers.Mbowane founded Disco Mathematics Academy in Thulamahashe, where he lives, just outside of Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga, back in 1990."I believe in empowering the pupils of the community since most of them come from underprivileged backgrounds. I provide them with all the necessary help they require when it comes to subjects such as mathematics and physical sciences because the country lacks science teachers and most schools rely on foreign teachers to teach these subjects," he said.Mbowane resigned from his teaching job at Eric Nxumalo High School in 1997 to make more time for the project. The only source of funding the academy has is the R120 monthly fee paid by each learner."Mathematics is all about passion, even though we don't have proper infrastructure and enough time to practice. I devote most of my time to helping these learners to pass the subjects. I deal with the learners individually to cater for their needs and I'm happy that this academy has seen the success of many learners, of which today some of them are doctors, and some are pursuing medicine and engineering degrees at various institutions across country," he said.The most challenging aspect of teaching Grade 12 maths, said Mbowane, is that pupils don't understand the basics."Most schools invest their time in matric pupils instead of starting at the foundation."'Patriotic contribution'The support he receives from the pupils' parents and the community at large is what gets him going every day, he said.Dr Lawrence Mathebula completed his medical degree in 1997 with the assistance of the academy."Mr Mbowane is the best in mathematics and he is the kind of person who does not lose patience when handling different students coming from various schools which makes him the best mathematics teacher in Bushbuckridge," said Mathebula, who now runs a surgery in nearby Shatale.Romeo Mugwena, another product of the academy, is now studying medicine at the University of Limpopo."I matriculated in 2014, but because of my poor results in mathematics I went back to school and joined Disco Mathematics Academy. It was there where I was able to do better than the previous year. Mr Mbowane taught me never to reject a person who needs help because by helping them I would in turn be improving myself," Mugwena said.Provincial education spokesperson Jasper Zwane praised Mbowane for his good work."This resonates very well with the government's quest to improve the intake and pass rate in mathematics and physical sciences. It presents a practical tale that it is possible for our learners to excel in these subjects. The department is encouraged by this patriotic contribution," Zwane said.