Bushbuckridge – Jerry Mbowane, who has helped matriculants in Mpumalanga pass with distinctions in maths and science for decades, has launched a new learning project targeting younger pupils.
On Saturday Mbowane, 58, launched the Catch Them Young maths and science project through which he offers free classes to younger students.
"The reason why we want to catch them young is because at most times the foundation phase is ignored; being grades eight, nine, ten and 11," he said, adding that starting in Grade 12 was often too late.
Mbowane has been teaching afternoon maths and science classes and helping pupils get distinctions for 27 years.
"Now to make it easy for the students and for me, I have decided to give them bursaries while they are still in those foundation stages before Grade 12.
"They attend free of charge because I am passionate about equipping them. Some of the learners around my area come from poor backgrounds and they cannot afford to pay for the afternoon classes and I can't let money come in between my project of shaping their future through maths and science empowerment," said Mbowane.
More than 300 pupils have already enrolled for Mbowane's Catch Them Young project at his recently opened Caltex Mathematics and Physical science Academy sponsored by Chevron South Africa.
"I expect to have more coming in by January next year," he said.
Geenen Nkalanga, 13, a Grade 8 pupil from a local school in Thulamahashe, says he joined the project because maths in secondary school is complex.
"I want to become a medical doctor and I plan on sticking with Mr Mbowane for the next five years. I have only had just two sessions with him but I feel like the attitude I had towards maths is changing because he makes it easy for me to understand," he said.
Marlon Madzivanyeka, 16, said that he realised that science subjects are important after his sister struggled to get a spot at university.
"I come to Mr Mbowane's maths and science lessons so I don't repeat my sister's mistakes," he said.
Jasper Zwane, spokesperson for the Mpumalanga department of education said Mbowane's project resonates with government's endeavour to promote maths and science and improve the pass rate in these subjects.
"We appreciate such a patriotic gesture. He is setting a perfect example that it is possible to make a difference irrespective of the position or circumstances that you find yourself in," Zwane said.