Noxolo Myeko, Busisiwe Mngomezulu, Nthabiseng Morajane and Nomusa Ngubane started at Mthimkhulu Primary School in Vosloorus in 2021. The JumpStart programme’s expansion in Ekurhuleni South benefitted in May, when INTASOL Tailings came on board as a sponsor, adding yet another school to the programme. Psychology student, Noxolo Myeko, talked about her experiences this year and shared her hope of making a difference to the children who’ve embraced her as their tutor.
What were the challenges of 2021?
Of the four interns starting this year, I was the only one with any child-related work experience. Initially, neither the teachers nor the principal knew much about the JumpStart programme, so we got off to a bumpy start. When the HOD brought us together and explained the expectations on all sides, we soon built a great working relationship. The tutors drafted a timetable to work with the teachers. After that, our team flourished. The teachers helped us identify the learners’ strengths and weaknesses and they mentored us, helping us improve our own skills. We learned to communicate and worked well with the teachers. Now we’re a great family.
What part of your work did you love?
I was quite nervous in front of the kids when I started teaching, afraid of making mistakes. As time went by I started enjoying the teaching more. I really love working with the children individually and getting to know each learner. It makes teaching much easier. As you understand each child, you can relate specifically to them. I’ve shed many tears as the learners opened up to me to share the things going on in their lives. They feel comfortable talking to me. The one-on-one attention I give really helped their maths!
What was Noxolo Myeko’s biggest challenge?
Many learners struggle to participate and concentrate. That makes it difficult to give them the attention they need. I watch children trying really hard but they still don’t understand the work. The teachers acknowledge that we just don’t have the capacity to give all of them the individual help they need. I felt I was failing the learners who didn’t progress to their capability.
What happened in July?
The looting really scared me as a mum with a baby. I was anxious about running out of food, milk, and nappies. Back at school after the looting a child was bragging about mom bringing back a bed. Another child went with her parents and her younger brother to get food, because they had nothing to eat at home. After the looting, we had difficulty teaching the children about right and wrong. One day I set aside the maths work to facilitate a discussion about what they wanted to be when they grow up. We discussed the meaning of theft and spoke about imagining the legacy they wanted to leave for those coming after them. I encouraged them to think about living out positive values and good morals.
Who helped you succeed?
Everybody helped us. Everybody helped me. The other tutors became my family. It feels like we built something that goes beyond the JumpStart programme. The teachers taught us valuable lessons too, always ensuring that we’re doing well. The HOD loves the learners like her own children. Even the children helped make the year a success. Without them, none of this would have happened. The JumpStart team is always there for us to answer our questions. The JumpStart tutors from other schools are working together to ensure that we all get the most out of the programme. I love being part of this team.
What did Noxolo Myeko learn on the job?
The biggest thing I realised was just how much I love working with kids. For the first time I discovered that kids love me, and I seem to work well with them. Communication between us comes naturally. I see myself as a strong person, able to overcome any challenge. I have the courage to face anything on my path. This year I stepped into that headspace of facing my challenges. Now I’m able to stand in front of a class with confidence. I’m more positive about myself and I’ve developed my self esteem. I believe in myself and open up more. There’s so much this experience has taught me – not only about myself but about others too.
How did your career ambitions progress?
Working with children I’ve realised that I want to work as a child psychologist one day. This is where I fit best and where I belong so I’m studying psychology. I’m able to communicate with them, and even the teachers noticed how well I connect with the children. JumpStart is building my career and making me strong! It unlocks new things in me that I didn’t even know about.
Why does sponsorship matter?
The stipend goes a long way to help us tutors provide for our own children. For that, I thank INTASOL Tailings. Regarding the children in the class, it brings them so much joy and excitement when they get to interact with the tablets. These learners have new hope. Many of these children would never have interacted with tech like this if not for the JumpStart programme. They’re being exposed to more than just the maths. The world is changing positively in big and small ways because of our funders.
Why did you get vaccinated?
At first the horror stories scared me. I knew nothing but hearsay and was afraid of dying. As the celebrities, our president, the police, and nurses went public on getting vaccinated, I changed my mind. They were clearly staying alive, so I did my online research and asked people who’d been vaccinated how they felt. A job post requiring a vaccine certificate clarified the matter. I figured I want to be safe, I’ll get vaccinated for my future. After my first dose I was a bit dizzy and my hand felt heavy. After the second I felt nothing at all. I’m encouraging anybody who is hesitant to look at the odds. In order to live a safe and decent life, for the safety of your children and community, getting vaccinated is the right choice. It’s the only choice!
Help JumpStart Mathematics expand to yet more schools
Would you like to help us to expand our programmes to schools in your area? Optimise your Skills Development expenditure or contribute to our bursary fund. Meet your B-BBEE scorecard by supporting a tutor like Noxolo. These options are in line with the revised B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice. Please email Betty Oliphant for more information.