Vuyani Nkalitshane’s maths tutoring passion is benefiting countless learners who are struggling with the subject
Mathematics is generally regarded as a very challenging subject, by many, it is mostly perceived as both an obstacle for school progression and a conduit to a well-paying career, thereby necessary. But not everyone has patience for it, except for passionate teachers and learners filled with effortless ingenuity and moxie.
However, it is quite inspirational to see passionate individuals who dedicate their precious time to help learners with immense desire to dismantle the widely held notion that mathematics is difficult.
Such individuals include Vuyani Nkalithsane, who is a community development worker (CDW) based in Phola Park in Elliot. Nkalitshane is tutoring grade 9 and grade 10 learners with mathematics from various high schools in Elliot and Cala. These high schools include: Elliot High Shool, Masikhuthale Public High School, Cala High School, Cala Community School, Cala Village and L. Jentile High School.
“I have extra classes that I offer after I knock off from work for grade 9s and 10s. I started in 2019 with grade 8s. This year, I’m assisting grades 9 and 10. I want to monitor them until they reach grade 12. Usually, we were starting from 5pm to 6:30pm, but because of Covid-19, we halted classes and moved online. Fortunately all the learners have WhatsApp, so, I send them notes and other study materials on the WhatsApp group. I then explain those notes, give them exercises and ask them to send me back pictures of their completed task”, says Nkalitshane.
Nkalitshane’s love for maths dates back from when he was just a young boy, and saw him pursue a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Cape Town (UCT); majoring with mathematics and chemistry. Even though he never completed his degree at UCT, his passion for maths certainly fuelled and he is now imparting it to younger generation that is willing to quench their thirst for education, at no cost through tutoring.
After dropping out at UCT, Nkalitshane sought out employment and he secured a community development learnership in 2004-2005. At the end of the learnership, the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs saw it fitting to appoint him as a permanent community development worker.
“Around June in 2004, the grade 12 maths teacher at the high school I went to here in Elliot left. Learners then requested that I assist them with revision because back then, I used to assist them with their CTA exams. The following year, there was still no maths teacher so I continued assisting them, while occupied with the learnership. The beauty of it was that, I attended two weeks on the learnership and the other two weeks, I would spend it in the classroom helping grade 12 learners with maths. So I fell in love with tutoring since then”, shares Nkalitshane.
Even though Nkalitshane works as a community development worker, he emphasises that these extra classes are not part of his job description. He is doing it voluntarily, out of love and passion for maths. He also boasts about success in his tutoring endeavour, because, out of all the learners he tutored last year, only two failed. “Parents are also appreciative of my work, highlighting that their children were struggling, but now that I am helping, there’s evident improvement. Another thing I’ve noticed is that, they also develop an interest to choose maths over maths literary at grade 10”, reveals Nkalitshane.
Nkalitshane is currently pursuing a teaching degree at the University of South Africa (UNISA), specialising in mathematics. He says, he would have done it earlier, but he had other commitments. He is currently doing his second year.
Cwenga Stali is one of Nkalitshane’s tutees. She is currently doing grade 9 at Elliot High School. She says, “The maths classes have been a lot helpful lately, because in class, we actually do not get the attention we need since there are many learners, but, with Vuyani, it’s actually the other way around. He explains to us comprehensibly.” Stali went on to add that, “He also gives special attention to us as individuals. We also have extra time with him.”
Stali’s sentiments were echoed by another proud grade 9 tutee, Ukho Dalasile. Dalasile also goes to Elliot High School. She boasts that, “as a learner in grade 9, I would like to say that, being taught by Nkalitshane has helped us a lot. We are thankful because we can see more positive changes in our results, our Maths results have improved a lot. I’m grateful we found a tutor like him. He is always understanding, polite and makes us smile while learning.”
Dalasile also admits that they make him angry sometimes, but his calm demeanour does not expunge his patience with them. “He won’t ever just lose his senses and hit one of us. He’s constantly encouraging us to do good and never forget about what we are gunning for. I hope that he never stops doing the great work that he is doing. We appreciate him a lot.”
Now that grade 7s and grade 12s are back at schools, there have been new developments on Nkalitshane’s schedule. “Recently, I visited Masikhuthale High School as a CDW. It was established that, their maths teacher for grade 12 did not return due to an undisclosed chronic illness. Another teacher for physical sciences also did not return because his post wasn’t permanent and was being paid by the school governing body (SGB). So the principal requested me to cover maths and physics periods, but I rejected the physical sciences offer because I’m not well equipped for it” he elaborated.
He also added that he informed his supervisor, who was delighted upon learning about the offer and advised him to request a letter from the Department of Eduction to the Department of Cooperate Governance and Traditional Affairs; chronicling the new duties that the Department of Education assigned him to perform at Masikhuthale Public Secondary School.
By Lwando Mqokweni