WATCH | Covid-19 a year later: How Joburg teacher inspired students, despite limited resources

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  • Nomzamo Kunene, a high school teacher, said distance learning was difficult because her students did not have access to resources. 
  • To ensure her pupils excelled, she got creative and started WhatsApp groups. 
  • Despite the challenges, she was able to maintain a 100% pass rate for the second year in a row. 

Over the past year, frontline workers have put their lives on the line to ensure that South Africans are safe and able to get essential services. 

Teachers, like Nomzamo Kunene from Sijabulile Secondary School in Katlehong, south of Johannesburg, went the extra mile to ensure her pupils were able to excel.

"Being a teacher before the pandemic was simple…[but] teaching during the pandemic was very challenging because I come from a school that does not have enough resources," she told News24.

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Kunene, who's been teaching tourism and religious studies for the past three years, said remote learning was a challenge because of the small number of pupils with cellphones or laptops. 

Getting creative

Not wanting the year to go to waste, she got creative.

Kunene started WhatsApp groups for her learners. 

The app was ideal because it uses minimal data, while learners without cellphones could log in with a relative's device.  

Additionally, she encouraged learners, who lived near each other, to share the information from the WhatsApp sessions with classmates who didn't have access to smart devices. 

Back to school

Once students returned to contact learning, Kunene worried that her learners wouldn't be able to adjust to the new normal. 

"We had to stay after school for long hours. I found every resource that could help. Hence, I was able to maintain a 100% pass rate for tourism," she said. 

READ | REFLECTION | Covid-19: How the basic education dept weathered the Covid-19 storm

Despite her learners' success, the school's overall pass rate dropped. 

"Academically, we struggled. Hence, the school's pass rate dropped by two percent, but it's still good because we don't have enough resources."

Excited for the new school year

Despite the curveballs thrown at Kunene, she is looking forward to the new year.

Due to physical distancing protocols, the number of pupils in her classes are smaller, which gives learners more opportunities to interact with Kunene. 

"Since education is my passion, teaching during the pandemic has given me more drive. I feel the students are more hungry for education, and focus," Kunene said.  

"I believe in their strengths and capabilities. I know they can achieve what they want to achieve."

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