TEACH South Africa: Being part of the solutionBy Lebohang Mphure
I had come to a point where it felt like I had chosen the wrong field of study. I had just acquired my degree but was already looking for something else to do, without having my Science degree go to waste.
While browsing through the internet in 2010, I found out about TEACH South Africa and its model of teaching and saw it as a great way to give back to the country. I also understood the state of South African education at the time , especially in the areas of Mathematics, Science and English, and I wanted to be part of the solution.
The school that I was deployed to was quite chaotic – and to an extent it still is. Unemployment at Kliptown and the surrounding areas – where a lot of the learners are from – is extremely high and with it comes a host of other problems. Theft, vandalism, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, gansterism and other violent crimes are the unfortunate consequences which learners are exposed to on a daily basis. All of these contribute to poor classroom performance.
This was a difficult environment to work in and I am very thankful for being given the strength to believe in my learners and the perseverance to see my term through and not to give up.
I arrived at the Kliptown school with the intent of bringing with me a degree of order; and while winning the battle at school level proved to be a challenge, I am proud to say that I have won in my classrooms.
I was deployed to the school in Kliptown to improve the pass rate - so I set out to do exactly that. This required me to do away with the traditional teaching methods and make classes more appealing to the learners by allowing them to bring in their experience about the science instead of just going through textbooks.
I would continuously motivate the learners to dream and have a vision, and I’d also show them the critical role that education plays in their lives. I also had to lead by example; while preaching about hard work and excellence, I myself had to do exactly that making sure that they saw me work hard too - this included staying to help them with their school work after school hours.
The change was evident in the difference in the pass rate.
I was fortunate to be trusted with the matric class of 2011 and 2012. I teach a total of 7 classes, amounting to around 210 learners whom I see on a daily bases. The matric class of 2011 had a pass rate of 8 %. I worked very hard with them and managed to get a 16 % pass rate at the end of 2011.
In 2012, given the experience I had gained from the past year, I became better at motivating learners, became more of a role model, started to teach differently and recognized individual efforts from learners which boosted their performance, confidence and an urge to succeed.
This has proven to be my success formula as we managed to get a 40% pass rate after the preliminary exams. The school has also seen an increase in the number of learners taking Physical Science in Grade 10; from 23 learners in the 2011-2012 term to 40 learners in 2012.
I was also in involved in a some other activities all in hope to bring about transformation to the school and the learners.
- The School Shoe Project – A project where TEACH South Africa donated about 40 pairs of school shoes for the learners.
- RCL - Here I held a position of TLO . The idea here was to restore pride amongst the learners and a sense of ownership of the school. A school anthem was created and a flag pole erected to hoist the national flag.
- GEMBEM Library rehabilitation project - A group of learners took it upon themselves to try and make a difference in the school, so I joined them and helped facilitate their library project. They wanted to clean and restore the library so the learners of the school and the immediate community could have a media centre.
This experience has made me grow a lot professionally, emotionally and mentally. I was very immature and naïve when I first came to the school, but I quickly had to suck that all up and grow up. Today I can boldly say that a great leader has been molded out of the experience.
Lebohang Mphure with fellow TEACH Ambassadors, Mpundu Changa and Zandile Ntuli
Lebohang Mphure is a 2011 TEACH Ambassador teaching Science at Klipspruit West, South Johannesburg. He holds a degree in BSC in Physics and Biology obtained from the University of the Free State. Lebohang joined the TEACH South Africa programme in 2011 and will be ending his 2 year service as a TEACH Ambassador in December 2012
For more information about TEACH South Africa, please visit www.teachsouthafrica.org