Life under lockdown #4: Mosa Letsie survives by studying

Mosa Letsie
Mosa Letsie lives with her mother and daughter in Sasolburg. Her UNISA studies have kept her going during lockdown.

Mosa Letsie, a Sasolburger born and bred, found that lockdown can be survived by sticking to the books. This mathematics tutor at Malakabeng Primary School in Zamdela loves the school wholeheartedly. “I’m part of the family, as Principal Kganakga says!” says Mosa. Four months of lockdown without teaching has been painfully frustrating. Continuing her honours degree in education research through UNISA with a StudyAssist bursary is saving her sanity. 

Goodbye graduation and good times

Life during lockdown hit us hard. The first thing to go was my graduation ceremony! Oh my word…  Covid-19 robbed me of the chance to get up on the podium. We are still waiting for virtual graduation, and no certificate has come yet. I was so prepared for the occasion with my brand new dress and heels…

The second thing to go was our social life. Looking around Zamdela, everyone locked themselves in their houses. No children were seen playing on the streets which had been a place of enjoyment. Just quietness. The only thing keeping me stable is my faith, my books and helping my daughter with school work.

The next thing was the closure of the Boitjhorisong Resource Centre where I prepared my assignments. It added another challenge. Likewise, my daughter doing school work at home, separated from her friends and teachers, was another big adjustment.

My pillar of strength

The most difficult experience of the new normal was the funerals in our neighborhood which we could not attend. It’s hard to watch neighbours struggling as their source of income – recycling – dried up. Mom and I took it upon ourselves to cook for them, sharing what we have. On days when I feel like giving up, she reminds who I am and where I come from. She says, “Mosa, God will never give you a burden that is beyond your faith.”

Honours in Education Research

My coursework is based on the deeper ways of teaching, so for now I’m exploring how other researchers examine the educational system. I want to focus on how learners who have barriers to access and understanding might appear less “gifted”. This challenges me to think more broadly, to reach a child who doesn’t understand that 2+2 makes 4. What other methods could work? Some learners learn by seeing things, but some can only learn by touch. If I put plastic bottles lids on the table, they can hold and count them, and sense their own ability to count.

I think about one little girl who could count and kept failing because she needed one-on-one focus. She needed to touch things too, to retain a sense of what she had been taught. She needed that foundation to learn. I wish the JumpStart tutors based in Sasolburg could reach out to our learners, like the online tutors in Katlehong. At this stage, the learners don’t have access to tablets. 

Psychology explains motivation

The psychology component of my studies helps me understand myself better. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explains human motivation. So I look back to matric, when I wanted to become a social worker. I enrolled to study, but toward the third year… boom! Pregnancy! I couldn’t finish my degree. A while later, I managed to complete a safety course and soon landed my first job as a safety standby officer. Even though I was earning pretty well, my heart wasn’t in the work. It was simply a means of providing for my baby and my family. When I heard about JumpStart in 2014, I was thrilled to be accepted onto the programme. I loved it and haven’t looked back… 

Mosa Letsie’s biggest consolation

The best thing during this time has been going to town, where I see learners in the shops. Despite the “no hugging” rule it’s lovely to hear how they are coping. Getting back to Maslow, I guess, my life has real meaning as I strive to understand people. I want to motivate my fellow tutors to study hard during this period. Let’s work to improve ourselves to become better teachers, because Covid-19 won’t last forever.

Partner with JumpStart

Mosa Letsie’s studies were covered by a SASOL bursary. Mosa is one of many eager and capable future teachers who need a hand up to qualify. Your contribution could make an enormous difference to other talented youth who need a hand up to pay for their studies qualifying. By sponsoring a StudyAssist bursary or learnership your organisation could score Skills Development points. Please email Betty Oliphant for more information.

Update – 7 October 2020

After waiting for months for my Bachelor of Education certificate a courier arrived and I graduated in absentia. I went off to SACE, registered my documents and soon heard about a SGB post for a Grade 3 teacher at Taaibos Primary School. My life has changed dramatically. I have my own class with 39 learners and I’m implementing the theory I’ve learned. It’s a huge responsibility to ensure that all 39 of the children learn in this post-Covid era. It was a big step to leave JumpStart and Malakabeng Primary.

Taaibos Primary School

This week, I celebrated “Teacher’s Day” as a temporary member of the staff at Taaibos. Our principal, Mrs  Sarah-May Gordon, shared her appreciation of our efforts and encouraged us to count on each other. We ate and danced, letting down our hair, forgetting all our lockdown worries. I bonded with my new colleagues in a relaxed environment.

Mrs Gordon has welcomed Mosa to the school, describing her as a warm outgoing person. “She fitted in from the first day and we get along well with her.” It seems like Mosa has found her new family!

Update – 5 February 2020

Mosa sent the JumpStart management team a joy message: “Hi Ma’am! I hope you are well! I want to thank you for everything! Your support and love! I just received the good news that I have been appointed at Bofula Tshepe Primary School! Once again, thank you for the opportunity. 🌸 🥳 “

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