Andile Radebe (22) is opening the door to mathematical competence for learners at Ndhlenhle Primary School. This school in Ekurhuleni South is a beneficiary of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and one of five new schools that came onto the programme in 2021. Andile shared the philosophical and literary touchstones that will serve him well as he grows into a teaching career.
What were the challenges of starting a new school on the JumpStart programme?
I’m studying to be a teacher, so I was excited about the opportunity to get real world experience. It was great working with the staff and learners. My love for people overcame any challenges along the way, and I try focusing on the good around me always. I’d say there weren’t significant challenges.
What was most engaging and enjoyable in 2021?
Seeing the learners’ progress was hugely inspirational this year. As a tutor, our job requires love and patience. Both come naturally to me. The bonds we create with our students and the joy on their face when they see us is priceless! Through the course of our work, I got to understand each student and saw all of them grow. At that young age, they grow so much in such a short time. I am sometimes a little overzealous when I see them making progress. My motivation is to see change, growth, and development in each learner. When I see these things it brightens my heart tremendously.
What aspect of your work most challenged you?
We are all smart and strong, each capable of anything we set our minds to. Sometimes differences cloud our minds leading to certain groups being marginalised. The biggest challenge this year was that some children weren’t catered for in terms of their unique strengths and understanding. They struggled because we didn’t have the capacity to meet their specific needs. Our schools tend to cater to certain types of learners and the ways they learn best. I hope that schools can make it a priority to meet the needs of learners with unique perspectives. There is a significant lack of resources. We’re improving conditions, but we must strive to create great learning environments.
Who helped you in your work at Ndlelenhle?
The teachers I worked with definitely helped me succeed this year. Because they have studied for teaching, they were able to offer guidance which made everything easier. Every day I had something to look forward to. Like the great Toni Morrison said: “If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” I really felt empowered by the teachers I worked with.
What are your thoughts about learning?
There are so many different methods of learning. Education tends to encourage us all to think in the same way, to believe there is just one correct answer. I think this is problematic and hampers creative thinking. We can all come to the same conclusion in different ways, and that is what matters. If the learner understands what is being taught and if they show a different way to get the right answer, then great! Assuming we have thirty learners in a class. Should we expect them all to think and process solutions identically? That would be unfair to the learner. What’s important is getting to the right conclusion. By understanding that each person’s brain is different, our expectations for students and our teaching styles can adapt accordingly.
How has this year helped Andile Radebe’s career ambitions?
I am working towards a teaching degree and this has been such a great learning opportunity. Every day I get to experience the world that I’m stepping into. Working on the JumpStart programme has reassured me that I’m on the right path. I’m more excited than ever about my future!
A word from Andile Radebe for our sponsors
This programme greatly benefits the pupils! Broadly speaking, we know how maths underperforms in South Africa. This programme fills a unique need by offering extra assistance to the learners. We help them build their numerical skills and their self-confidence. We’re setting them up for success in STEM careers down the road. The programme is making maths exciting for the learners. At school, I wasn’t particularly interested in maths. I know my teachers tried hard, but weren’t able to make it more interesting. By changing our attitude and having programmes like JumpStart we’ll be able to improve the quality of maths education for more learners.
Help bring freedom from fear of mathematics to more schools
Would you like to help Andile Radebe and other like him complete their studies? We aim to expand our programmes to schools in the Ekurhuleni South area and welcome additional support! Optimise your Skills Development expenditure or contribute to our bursary fund. Meet your B-BBEE scorecard by supporting a tutor like Andile. These options are in line with the revised B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice. Please email Betty Oliphant for more information.