Hlengiwe Ngcobo – New beginnings in Vosloorus with Senator International

Hlengiwe Ngcobo (31) was a key player in setting up a JumpStart NumberSense programme at a school, new to our programme this year. As a tutor of foundation phase maths at Mampudi Primary School, she brought an “attitude of gratitude” to kick off the new project.

We learned about joining the team at Mampudi, a school which came on board for the first time in the Ekurhuleni South District this year. In January 2021 JumpStart Foundation was able to expand the project into Vosloorus, thanks to new sponsors. Without the exciting partnership with Senator International much of this would not have happened!

What were the challenges of starting a new school on the JumpStart programme?

Luckily, Mampudi Primary was not a new environment for me. The only thing that was new to me was the JumpStart programme. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the teachers! When I went in, my goal was to equip the learners with a good foundation for their education going forward. I am learning so much, and interacting with all the students and their different personalities has brought me immense joy.

What aspect of your work appealed to you most?

I love my job because everyone shares the same vision and they are dedicated to the mission of helping the learners grow daily in their knowledge. This creates a collaborative environment where everybody supports each other. I also love my job because the learners care about me. There is a genuine spirit of cooperation and shared goals. We’re all working to help the learners succeed. I appreciate the working environment. My co-workers listen to my ideas and the whole team strives to reach our goals.

What part of your work was difficult?

The biggest challenge was with the grade ones who had no nursery schooling due to lockdown last year, which caused a number of other educational backlogs. The learners starting this year didn’t had no basic number skills. As a team, we were able to solve these issues and it was incredibly gratifying to be part of the solution. Another challenge that I faced was prioritising the work. Because I was working with teachers for a number of different classes, I had to find a way to balance my energy between the various classes I was helping.

Vosloorus was hard hit by the riots and unrest in July. How did this affect you personally? How were you able to help the children?

It was a very difficult time for everyone. The learners experienced a lot of disturbances during that time. Some of the learners ended up forgetting a lot of what they had already learned, and some of them couldn’t make it to school because of disruptions of transport. When the dust settled, I reminded the learners of the importance of coming to school. At one point, we did a role play where we opened up space for the learners to speak about how the riots made them feel. During the lunch breaks, I’d sit with the learners and have a picnic. This helped build connections with the learners and ended up helping our classroom work as well.

Who helped your success this year?

My co-workers at Mampudi – Tshidi, Roseline and Thapelo – made this year a success. We started off as co-workers, but I feel like I gained siblings. Our teamwork helped us reach our goals. Even though we had our ups and downs, we became a family. I believe that our efforts and hard work lead us to meaningful growth. As a team, we learned many new skills. We were faced with challenges and we would look for ways to develop our knowledge and skills to overcome and triumph. Working with them made me feel welcome, feel at home.

What did you learn along the way?

The first thing I learned is that in life, one should never stop learning. I grew up thinking I was shy and belittled myself. As I grow older, I’m learning to spend more time doing the things I enjoy. It’s important to develop your talents which lead to personal growth. Another important thing was avoiding negative people. If someone undermines your confidence, you need to consider stepping back from that relationship. By spending time with people who lift you up and make you feel good, you build self-confidence.

Something new for me this year was learning to view failures as learning experiences. With a growth mindset, you don’t believe that failure is a reflection of your abilities. You view it as a valuable source of experience instead, an opportunity to learn and grow. You might think “That didn’t work…” and follow it up with, “Next time I’ll try something different.”

What are your personal career aspirations?

Back in 2012 I was a homework supervisor at Mampudi Primary School. We were trained for a short period of time and helped the learners with their homework and subjects they were struggling with. That’s definitely where the seeds were planted for my love of teaching. I’ve nearly finished my undergraduate degree in education through Northwest University. I’ve got just one module left, and then I’ll become a teacher.

What difference does the funding your programme received make?

Because of the funding, the programme is a success. Learners have improved their mathematics considerably and self confidence with numbers has grown. I am proud and supportive of my learners and committed to their personal, social, emotional, and academic development. Having extra hands in the classroom is a gamechanger, and the programme benefits both learners and tutors. The learners have the opportunity for more focussed attention, and the tutors get valuable work experience that prepares them for whatever career they might wish to pursue.

Partner with us

Can you help us to expand our work? With companies like Senator International we create opportunities for excellent maths education across South Africa and help unemployed youth get a leg up on the path to meaningful work! Email Betty Oliphant to learn how your contribution will help you meet your B-BBEE scorecard and/or qualify you for a qualify for a Section 18A tax exemption certificate.

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