Teacher with maths passion lends a hand

Rashied Wynford
Rashied Wynford

DETERMINED to make a difference by helping pupils to master maths, a Nelson Mandela Bay teacher wants to give under-performing schools a hand.

The Port Elizabeth District Education Department’s programme to improve pass quality was just the platform for Victoria Park High School maths teacher Rashied Wynford, 47, one of a number of experienced teachers hand-picked by the department to help schools and teachers struggling to teach maths.

Having once been an under-achiever in the subject that he is today so passionate about, Wynford said it was his own teacher who ignited the fire and he has lived to ignite it in his own pupils.

Tonight he and Daniels Primary School principal Margaret Mvane will be among 10 Eastern Cape teachers in line for a National Teaching Award at Johannesburg’s Gallagher Estate.

“I’m excited, but quite nervous. I may be doing well in my corner, but there could be others doing bigger things in other provinces,” he said.

On the home front, Wynford, who has 30 years’ experience in teaching maths, this week began training teachers from under-performing schools to teach the subject better.

The Annual National Assessments have revealed appalling results for maths in Grade 9, showing that only about a third of pupils can perform at the desired levels. Wynford started teaching maths while still a first year B Sc maths student at the then University of Port Elizabeth (now NMMU) in 1987.

He got his first official teaching job in 1992.

“When I was in standard seven [now Grade 9], I was an ordinary boy who did not like studying and I was just not going to pass maths,” he recalled. “My teacher believed in me and gave me a second chance, and enough confidence to apply myself from Grade 10 onwards.

“Pupils need to know that success is about going through a series of failures, but you must be prepared to rise from them.

“Today it brings such a smile to my face to see my kids grasp abstract concepts.”

Wynford does not get tired of teaching, even giving extra maths tuition at his Westering home for about three hours after his daily job at VP High.

Port Elizabeth acting district director Mphakamisi Hlekani said the district wanted to improve results across the board and needed teachers of Wynford’s calibre to ensure this happened.

“The more experienced teachers will play a pivotal role in helping improve results in the district,” he said. “The programme will see teachers training those from both under-performing and performing schools that may battle with some of the subjects.

“And we are doing this now so that we don’t wake up to it much later in the year, when it is too late.”

-Zandile Mbabela

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