Meet Mashiya: Axium’s Khan Academy Guru

Mashiya (right) at work/play at Masakhane!
Mashiya (right) at work/play at Masakhane!

Mashiya is an energetic, dedicated woman whose passion for maths and helping kids make her an essential ingredient to the Masakhane programme’s success. Being a proudly born-and-bred Zithulelean means she knows everybody, has shares in Ma Mia’s amagwinya business – and is an excellent role model for the Masakhane kids, who can’t get enough of their friendly teacher.

Q: What do you do at Axium?

I help students with maths, always encouraging them that maths is very, very important. I teach them how to solve problems, and help them with Khan Academy – making sure that they master what I’m teaching them. I also visit schools because I want the teachers to know about their students attendance, and make sure that attendance will improve. When I go to schools, the students always ask – “What are you doing at school, Mashiya?”. They get worried that I’m talking about them to their teachers.

Q: What do you love the most about your job?

The first thing is that I like maths, more than other subjects. Secondly, I want the students of my community to succeed. That’s why I want to work with maths – because I want them to improve their maths, so that they can get much better when they get to high school. I also love to be in front of people, with everyone listening to what I’m saying and doing it! It makes me feel that I’m important to them. Also because I want to be a teacher one day – that’s why I enjoy working at Masakhane. Yoh, I also love my colleagues so much. Almost all of them!

Q: And what is the most challenging thing about your work?

What I find difficult is to teach students who think that they know me – and then they keep on talking when I’m talking! They take their chances. Also, to deal with students who are cheeky… Some days I don’t know what to do with them.

Q: Let’s look back… So, when did you first meet ‘Axium’?

I met Axium in 2009, when I was doing grade 11 at Seaview Senior Secondary. They came to do a Winter School, and I attended. I was actually pretending I was in grade 12 that time – I even went to the grade 12 classes! They were teaching maths so well, and I wished they would stay here and always come and teach at the school. Unfortunately, they didn’t do that! I met them again at Seaview in 2010, when I was really in grade 12. Later that year, when I was attending Gwebityala Senior Secondary, I attended another Winter School with Axium. It’s like they were looking for me! I was one of the students that always won their white tshirts, because I was one of the top students. They also gave us Answer Series – that helped us so much.

Q: And then how did you start to work for Axium?

I saw posters in Zithulele for Community Readers at the end of 2013, and I applied for the job. In the interviews, they asked me what subject I liked most, and I told them it’s maths!  I’m glad I told them that, because they gave me a job teaching maths with the Khan Academy. I really enjoy this job! I started on 15 January 2014.

Q: What would you do to improve education in Zithulele?

I would visit parents. Some young students don’t go to school – I would visit their parents and ask them why their kids didn’t go to school. And then I would tell the parents that education is so important. I would tell them to encourage their children to go to school. I would also encourage the students of Zithulele to go to school – and tell them how important education is.

Q: What about when they go to school and there’s a strike? Or teachers go to a workshop?

I’ll tell them that during strike action or when teachers are away, they can still learn. They can form groups and have time together to discuss the work. Their books are with them, not the teachers – so they can still read their books and try out previous papers with their peers.

Q: What are your dreams for your future?

My dream is to succeed. To go to a teacher’s institution and do my Bachelor of Education. When I get that certificate, I want to come back and work here in my community as a teacher. That’s what I really want – to get a job here, where I can help my community.

Q: What do you for fun in Zithulele?

I just stay at home – cleaning, cooking and just chilling. Sometimes I go to Mthatha with my baby boy and spend the weekend there.

Q: If you had to come up with a motto for life for the students of Zithulele, what would it be?

Kuqala kubenzima ukuze kubelula! (It’s difficult before it becomes easier)


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