Ambassadors show pupils the way

Kholeka Kumalo

TWO young Eastern Cape teaching graduates are pouring their passion and expertise into a needy Nelson Mandela Bay school for the next two years, thanks to the support of Teach SA.

A non-profit organisation that recruits, trains and places top graduates from various fields, Teach SA was established in 2005 and works with the Education Department to address the national skills shortage in mathematics, science and English.

Young graduates with a proven track record of achievement and leadership are carefully selected to join the Teach SA programme as ambassadors.

They are then placed in historically disadvantaged schools to teach, inspire and effect significant and sustainable change.

Abonga Sofute, from Centane in the Transkei, and Dimakatso Ntsane, from Virginia in the Free State, are two such ambassadors. They have been at the Bay’s Kwazakhele High School since January, where they teach mathematics and science respectively to about 365 pupils a week.

Sofute graduated from Grahamstown’s Rhodes University with a BSc Honours degree in maths and chemistry and teaches Grades 9, 10 and 11.

She said she was inspired to make a difference at the school, but the task was not without its challenges.

“Kids have so much to offer. They love maths, but it’s a struggle. The results are bad because many don’t have a solid primary school foundation, but we’re really trying here.

“You find kids aren’t keen to learn because of social problems, and some parents aren’t interested in their children’s education. Sometimes the problem begins at home. Mindsets need to change,” Sofute said.

Ntsane, who graduated from the University of Free State with a BSc in material science, joined Kwazakhele as only the second science teacher for the entire school.

“We get taught what to teach, but most of the methods of how to teach you learn one step at a time. It’s difficult managing big classes as a new teacher, but we have a mentor who comes in twice a month to help us.”

Teach SA also encourages ambassadors to implement programmes outside of the curriculum to help develop pupils holistically. Sofute identified an area to benefit young girls specifically.

“We started an after-hours group as a platform for kids to express themselves, help each other, and have a chance to forget about their more serious problems. Many of these girls have been raped and have abusive parents, and black kids aren’t encouraged to talk with their parents about their troubles.”

Teach SA marketing and fundraising manager Ingrid Pearce said ambassadors in schools had produced amazing results both academically and non-academically.

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