Trading in finance to become a teacher

2017-05-28 06:05
Anelisa Dyonase trade his dream of working in the financial sector for teaching. He is a maths teacher in the Northern Cape and an ambassador of TEACH South Africa. Picture: Supplied

Anelisa Dyonase trade his dream of working in the financial sector for teaching. He is a maths teacher in the Northern Cape and an ambassador of TEACH South Africa. Picture: Supplied

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Volunteer tutor Anelisa Dyonase decided to set aside his dream of working in the financial sector and become a teacher after witnessing the smiles on the faces of the pupils he had helped to pass maths.

Born in Qamata Basin in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape, Dyonase, who was given the award for best provincial maths teacher by the Northern Cape last year, became involved in tutoring in local high schools while he was studying for his BSc in mathematical science at the University of the Western Cape.

The 28-year-old is one of 553 graduates in various fields who were recruited between 2009 and this year by Teach SA, a nonprofit organisation that works closely with the department of basic education.

The organisation was established to attract young graduates to the teaching profession to alleviate the shortage of maths, science, English and information technology teachers in previously disadvantaged schools around the country.

Dyonase said that helping maths pupils in Khayelitsha during a break from his university studies was very rewarding.

“They would come to my home and I would help them with their lessons. Even if I was busy in a library, they would come and ask for help. At the end of the term, they came to me all excited that I had helped them to pass.

“Even matric pupils would show me their excellent matric results. That made me very proud of myself. I discovered that I have the ability to impart knowledge to others,” Dyonase said.

A different path

While he had no aspirations of becoming a teacher and had instead dreamt of working in the financial sector and earning big bucks, the pupils’ smiles were overwhelming.

His plan had been to pursue his honours in financial mathematics after his junior degree.

However, he decided to apply for a position when he saw a Teach SA poster.

He was surprised by how well he did in the interviews and he became one of the ambassadors of the programme after obtaining a postgraduate certificate in education at the University of South Africa.

After going through training, Dyonase was placed at the then poorly performing Ratang-Thuto High school in the ZF Mgcawu district of the Northern Cape in 2013.

He remembers that, when he arrived at the school in 2013, it had recorded a 33% pass rate the previous year. He was assigned to teach Grade 11 and Grade 10 maths. He was also asked to give after-school lessons to the school’s nine Grade 12 pupils.

In the Grade 11 class, he had 17 pupils, but three other children who had previously not studied maths wanted to join, and he welcomed them. The pass rate jumped to 78% in 2013 and, in 2014, the school obtained a 94.7% pass rate. Out of the 20 pupils, only one failed, even though she had passed the September exams that year.

“That broke my heart. It still hurts me that she failed. I really don’t know why, but I understand that she had difficulties and a colleague and I tried to intervene. We raised R800 to buy her food, but I don’t know what happened in December,” Dyonase said.

He said the school’s pass rate dropped in 2015 to 75%, but improved again last year to 78%.

No funding

Another Teach SA ambassador, Tshegofatso Zingwita, who graduated in political science and international relations from North-West University, said she resigned two months before her internship contract ended with the department of public enterprises to join the programme.

“I saw that there was more stability in teaching and I was not sure if I was going to get hired elsewhere,” she said, adding that she would consider returning to her previous career, but only in five years.

Zingwita, who teaches English in Grade 10 and Grade 11 at Elizabeth Matsemela Secondary School in Soshanguve, Gauteng, is considering pursuing a postgraduate certificate in education.

Lerato Mathenjwa of Teach SA said that while there was no funding for the organisation’s training programme from the department of basic education, the collaboration was beneficial because the department provided posts and paid the salaries of their ambassadors.

She said the programme also wanted to help pupils in disadvantaged schools who were bedevilled by the perception that maths and science were difficult improve their performance in these subjects.

The programme is also helping reduce unemployment among young graduates and is therefore improving the country’s economy, she said.

Education department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the partnership with Teach SA formed part of the department’s national strategy to address the shortage of maths teachers and to promote it as “a subject necessary for the growth of the South African economy”.

Read more on:    education

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