Sebe is an Old Smiler!
S.M.I.L.E began working at Asibemunye High began in 2014. Almost 1000 learners attend Asibemunye in Mpophomeni. S.M.I.L.E. was approached by their dynamic English teacher and Head of Department, Mrs Mbeje, for assistance. She was using our Interactive English textbook with her Grade 12 learners. We helped these learners prepare for their final English First Additional Language paper. Sadly Mrs Mbeje left at the end of that year.
Asibemunye requested further support in 2015. We were fortunate to be able to continue to work there with funding from N3TC. Miss had just started her teaching career at Asibemunye. She is young and enthusiastic but inexperienced. More problematic was the fact that she had no textbook to use for her Grade 8 and 9 classes. In partnership with Chateau Gateaux, N3TC purchased a set of our S.M.I.L.E. Interactive textbooks to use in both these grades. We also assisted Sebenzile with our Programme of Teacher Training and Support. The Principal, Mr Pius Mnikathi, was positive about this support as he wisely commented that the preparation for Matric actually begins in Grades 8 and 9.
S.M.I.L.E. assisted Sebe over the course of the year working with her Grade 8 and 9 classes demonstrating various teaching skills. The textbooks were kept safely by Sebe in her storeroom and distributed to learners at the beginning of each English lesson and collected again at the end of the period. The books were shared between two or three learners during the lesson and material was photocopied when work needed to be sent home as homework. Sebe refers to her books as ‘gold’ and wants to preserve them to be used again in future years.
Working with Sebe is a pleasure. She is bright and receptive to new information. Newly qualified teachers need a lot of support to bridge the gap between the academic world and real classroom teaching and learning. Inexperience inevitably has an impact on ability and confidence in the classroom. It has been wonderful to experience her growth in both these areas over the year. With quality material from which to work every day there is no stopping Sebe – we have observed her new confidence and maturity. She wrote on her final assessment form that she now proudly considered herself “a developed educator”. Imagine our delight to hear that Sebe Dlamini is how Head of Grade 8 and has taken two other teachers under her wing. We now call Sebe an ‘Old Smiler’!
In 2016 we are again working at Asibemunye High, assisting their Grade 10 and 11 teachers, Mrs Ingrid Stead and Miss Thabsile Hlengwa. Although they have both been teaching at the school for a number of years they are receiving our support for the first time. We have given them a set of our Interactive English textbooks to use with their learners in their respective grades. Learners at Asibemunye High are using our material from grades 8 to 12 providing them with valuable continuity.
With continued support from the Touching Lives team at N3TC we can successfully promote excellence and positively transform the lives of teachers and learners in many more community schools.
Asidlale – Let’s Play!
iThemba Projects Asidlale programme (‘Let’s Play’) focuses on bringing quality Early Childhood Development to children in Sweetwaters by equipping parents and crèche teachers with the skills they need to help their children thrive. Through one-on-one mentoring, curriculum development, teacher support groups, parent-child playgroups, and home visits, parents and teachers discover how they can aid their children’s development. Thanks to N3TC, we have been able to expand our crèche and home-based programme to include more sites, and have increased our parent-child programme to include 120 families. In recent assessments, we’ve seen that the children coming through our partner crèches and preschools are far better prepared for grade R than their peers. This has come not from focusing directly on the children, but on the care-givers and teachers in their lives. We’ve discovered when you empower the adults, the benefit is exponential for the children.
“Just the other day, one of our mentors was stopped by a parent in the community to share with us the impact this programme is making on her life”, says Chrissie Van Niekerk, iThemba’s Vodacom Change the World Volunteer. “She said, ‘I didn’t know my child was so clever! She wants to read all the time now, and I feel like I’m a good mum.” What a powerful thing for a parent to feel! Research shows that parents who feel confident in their parenting are better at emotionally responding to their children’s needs, which is crucial for development.
Recently, when teachers at our partner crèches were asked to describe what Asidlale meant to them, one teacher immediately responded with, “It means we are not alone anymore.” She explained that previously she felt overwhelmed and at a loss when faced with a class of children each day. But now because of her training through Asidlale, she has a plan for the day, the children are motivated and busy, and furthermore, she has a network of other crèche teachers in the community who can support her.
Building skills, building community, and building relationships through Asidlale means children in Sweetwaters are being given the educational foundation they need to succeed.
Marvellous Maths Masters
Philani Majozi (PROTEC 2002) and Sisanda Mkhwanazi (PROTEC 2013) are both post-PROTEC Pmb students of whom PROTEC are incredibly proud! They spent their High School years attending Edendale Combined Technical High School and PROTEC Pmb Saturday and Vac School – even at a youthful 18, they were both exceptionally good mathematicians and scientists.
Rose Smuts (Executive Director of PROTEC) recalls their warmth and compassion for their peers. “Sisanda would often ‘teach’ his maths class under the beady eye of our Maths Tutor, Mrs Molly Mfeka, whilst he put forward his solution to a particularly tricky algebraic equation. There would be much discussion with everyone in the class carefully following his logic, at the same time as loudly offering their opinions! A better, student-centred lesson would be hard to find in any top school.”
Rose remembers hearing that post student Philani Majozi, who had initially done so well in mechanical engineering at Wits, had hit a snag and was about to drop out. This worried her enormously. “We had visited him at Wits some months previously and had thought that he was safely on the home straight. So I immediately phoned him, and the short story is that he transferred to UKZN and completed his BSc in Applied and Pure Maths, and Physics in 2008.”
From there, it was just a continued immersion in Mathematics for Philani, and after teaching at Edendale Combined Technical High School for seven years, he studied further and completed his MSc in November 2014. Along the way he has garnered a variety of impressive awards, among them being Best Teacher of the Year in Mathematics (SADTU), as well as Merit Certificates of Recognition for Dedication and Commitment to Mathematics. Currently he is lecturing at the University of Zululand in Mathematics, while he studies towards another post-grad Diploma in his beloved Mathematics. Philani will soon be registering for his PhD at the University of Pretoria where he hopes to branch into another field of Mathematics entitled “Rings, Fields & Modules”. Somehow, he has also found time to acquire certified skills in IT and Risk management – truly amazing.
Philani’s fond memories of PROTEC Pmb include “One problem that all the Grade 11 learners of 2001 were unable to solve. It was: Solve for x: x – sqrt (x)-6=0. I happened to be the only learner who could solve it!”
Sisanda Mkhwanazi was taught by Philani, and after matriculating in 2013, he returned to his school (Edendale Comb. Tech. High School) to work as a Junior Teacher during 2014. In 2015, Sisanda registered for his BEd degree at the Edgewood Campus of UKZN. He is majoring in Mathematics and Physical Science, and has been achieving excellent results – particularly in the teaching of Mathematics.
He fondly remembers the class presentations at the PROTEC annual Prize Giving ceremony – particularly the singing, which he would often lead. Maths Tutor, Mrs Molly Mfeka, had a profound influence on him and ‘helped to keep Mathematics alive’ for his class. He also remembers the Grade 10 Camp at L’Abri in the Karkloof, as a highlight. Philani reminisces about Trevor Smith, the Maths Tutor in his days at PROTEC Pmb, saying “Trevor’s views on mathematics were robust, and did stimulate more interest in this field, in particular, teaching as a career”.
Sisanda is now occasionally employed at PROTEC Pmb. During the recent holidays he accompanied the Grade 10 Class to the YFC Camp at L’Abri. Everyone had a lot of fun and opportunity for some serious introspection. PROTEC wish both of these wonderful young men all the very best in their future careers.