Top Matriculant of 2016 – Zuko Sogoni

Zuko Sogoni matriculated from Dudumayo Senior Secondary school at the end of 2016 with seven distinctions. He was the first student from the area to do so – ever! His outstanding results include 91% for Mathematics and 99% for Physical Science. Zuko was an immensely committed member of our Ekukhuleni programme throughout his Grade 10 to 12 years, and was active in promoting a vibrant study group culture among his peers. He is now on a full scholarship through the Rural Education Access Programme (REAP) and studying Actuarial Science at the University Cape Town.

We recently caught up with Zuko on life at the UCT and the secrets to his success…

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Zuko, how’s life as a university student?

Life here is good and on the other hand it’s not as good. I have social freedom now so I can do whatever I want and whenever I want to. That sounds great but actually, it also means I am my responsibility now. At the moment I’m coping but varsity is truly overwhelming.

What have you found easy? What has been challenging?

Studying and understanding by myself is what I find easy. I think this is because even during high school I was largely independent of my teachers. I’ve realised that many people here find studying by themselves difficult and unfortunately lectures don’t teach but only facilitate learning and assist in keeping with the curriculum.

Zuko, you did tremendously well at school. What were some of the secrets to your success?

Working hard and consistently. Pre-studying. I did as many past papers as I could. For Mathematics and Physical Sciences it’s good to do at least six papers each.

 

 

Dudumayo, the Rural Outlier

Dudumayo Senior Secondary school has managed to improve its matric (grade 12) pass rate from 53.3% in 2015 to 83.89% in 2016, a stunning feat for a school located in South Africa’s rural Eastern Cape. Axium Education’s Gené McAravey spoke to Dudumayo principal Nkosivumile Kwezi about what strategies the school has been employing to achieve such a drastic turnaround.

Situated within the rural Eastern Cape, more than an hour’s drive from the closest urban area and approximately two hour’s drive away from former president Nelson Mandela’s rural home of Qunu, lies Dudumayo Senior Secondary School. Dudumayo, serving approximately 1400 learners from Grades 10 to 12, faces all the typical challenges plaguing rural government schools. These obstacles include limited school infrastructure and resources, teachers who commute long distances daily, students living in households surviving on government grants and massive school overcrowding. Despite these, the school’s leadership and learners are determined to rise above the typically dark predictions for rural learner achievement. Now, with a more than 30% increase in Dudumayo’s matric pass rate from 2015 to 2016, it looks like these ambitions are becoming a reality.

Mr Nkosivumile Kwezi, who was appointed to his post at Dudumayo in February of 2016, is serving both as the school’s principal and as its Science teacher. As a former rural learner himself from the Bizana community in the Eastern Cape, he is passionate about helping rural learners overcome the odds to achieve success. When asked why he chose to work at Dudumayo, he had the following to say:

“So before I came here to Dudumayo I always had that passion [for rural education]. Because when I was listening to people, especially people who are working in rural areas they always said to me ‘Look, the reason why you are producing good results is because you are in town. Go to rural areas, you will see the reality.’”

Mr Kwezi’s previous experience includes a stint as the vice-principal of Zingisa Comprehensive High School as well as a teaching post at St John’s College, both situated in urban Mthatha.

“And I said, ‘You are lying! You are lying. Learners who normally excel in town are learners who are from deep rural areas,’” he explains. “I wanted to show them that now, even if the school is just under a tree, if there is a teacher, a teacher is the best resource. That school can perform very well.”

Since starting at Dudumayo, Mr Kwezi has implemented a number of programs to assist his learners. These include revision sessions in the mornings starting before 6am and running until 7.30am as well as supervised self-study in the evenings from 6pm until 10pm for Matric learners, Mondays through Thursdays. There are also compulsory, hour-long study sessions for grades ten and eleven after lessons have finished for the day. In addition, the staff hold classes on Saturdays on a rotating basis to make sure they have adequate time to cover the syllabus thoroughly.

When asked how the learners cope with such a strenuous academic schedule, Mr Kwezi smiles and responds, “You know, just have a visit, maybe in the morning, you will see them. I find them here in the morning. They are so motivated, hayi. They come running like anything…saying Nobakunzima. We will win. Even if it’s difficult, we will win…Really! The spirit that is in our children, it’s quite amazing.”

Mr Kwezi’s own attitude towards teaching has also played a role in this regard. He believes that encouraging and motivating learners is key, both inside and outside the classroom. He reports that he often begins his interactions with the learners by sharing a few inspiring words with them.

“Just have two or three words. ‘Hey good people, remember, hard work drives you to be a better person tomorrow. There is nothing that you can get without working hard. Hard work, the mix of determination and perseverance, that’s what brings about success. You need to share just one motivational word with them and then you get to the business. You teach them, you give them examples, give them class activities, you give them homework.”

After that, he explains, it’s about spending time with each learner, nurturing a strong relationship with them and keeping their spirits up. “Talk to them on a continuous basis, that ‘Look, you’ll do it,’” he says. “Even if a learner gets two marks or three marks in a test say, ‘You know, the reason why you are getting two or three clearly indicates that you have intelligence of doing well in this, so make sure that you triple these three marks in the next test.’ Even the very slow learner…will work hard now, not to disappoint you, you see? So that’s the system that I’ve been using.”

Asked how he finds time to engage with learners on top of his administrative duties as principal and his full teaching load, he shrugs and says simply, “If you are a teacher, ma’am, you know, you sacrifice. You forfeit something in order to get something.”

“I normally arrive here at quarter-to- six in the morning and I will be leaving at ten. And [tomorrow] morning I’ll be here at quarter-to- six. That’s a lot of sacrifice,” he explains. In the early mornings Mr Kwezi is joined by dedicated fellow staff members; Deputy Principals Ms Mdaka and Mr Ludidi as well as Head of Department Mr Hlanganyana. Mr Kwezi, like the rest of his staff, resides in Mthatha, an hour away. He makes the long drive on roads peppered with potholes and roaming livestock, in often rainy and misty conditions, twice daily.

“So you’ll find that now, for example, today I’m going to complete the organic chemistry. I’m going to give them a test, I’m going to mark that test, I’m going to give it back to them before I even go home. Can you see that, by then, all other educators are at home, you know, doing all their things, ma’am? You need to make time. If you can’t find time you need to make time by yourself. You just sacrifice, just for the benefit of an African child… Because I know that I’m a principal and it ends there but then I cannot destroy the future of the little children…I have to work [harder] so that at least they become what they want. I mustn’t be a stumbling block to their progress.”

Despite Mr Kwezi’s commitment and the efforts of his students, the challenges they face remain daunting. He describes visiting the cottages of his learners to collect them when they are late, only to find them sleeping on the floor with scarcely a blanket to cover them.

“This area is really, really, really overwhelmed by poverty, I’m telling you…We do not focus onto that because definitely, psychologically, it will traumatise us, but we just pretend as if things are normal and we normally assist some of the learners. You will find that some learners they do not have parents…Some of them, we really adopted them as educators. For example, even myself, there are learners that I am currently responsible for the payment of fees, you know, uniform, etc.”

He shakes his head sadly “There are so many, you know, but then we normally communicate with [the department of] social development…We assist the with food parcels and all that. But you could see that this is not sustainable for a very long time.”

Mr Kwezi’s greatest ambition for Dudumayo, beyond achieving a 100% pass rate in this year’s matric examinations, is to build a hostel for the school. “If we can have a hostel…everybody will eat the same food, everybody will stay in the same place, everybody will sleep in the same bed,” he explains.

The excitement in his voice is apparent as he expands on his vision. “If we can get a hostel with teacher’s cottage, if you want to sleep here, you can stay here…you are not rushing anywhere. You wake up in the morning with learners, ‘Come on, it’s time, good people, let us go back to school,’ and everybody runs to school,” he sketches out, laughter in his voice.

Because of large commuting distances, many learners in their matric year move into government funded RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) housing and cottages located near the school. This comes with its own set of dangers, however. Theft, house breaking and even students who get raped are tragically common occurrences, explains Mr Kwezi.

“If we have a hostel here, you can’t talk about that anymore. You will never ever talk about those things because the school will be fenced, there will be security, there will be matrons, there will be everybody. So learners will be safe.”

Mr Kwezi’s other ambitions include increasing the number of Bachelors passes as well as the number of students with distinctions. The school, who’s classes for Matrics began on the 3 rd of January, appears to be well on its way to achieving these goals, along with a 100% pass rate. We at Axium Education wish the learners and staff all the best for the rest of this academic year. Under the capable leadership of Mr Kwezi, and if hard work has anything to do it, we are expecting promising results from Dudumayo’s Grade 12 class of 2017!

School Management Team Retreat March 2017

Axium’s work with teachers and school leaders aims to encourage and build capacity in these key drivers of change in schools. The annual Senior Management Team (SMT) Retreat is an opportunity for school leaders from the Siyahluma Sisonke Sakhingomso (SSS) Network of schools to gather at an offsite venue for team building, sharing and collaborative problem solving.

It had been 15 months since our last SMT Retreat and the excitement was palpable in the weeks leading up to the event, with many teachers contacting us to make sure it was still happening! This was the 5th of these annual retreats and we used the occasion to invite principals from the Manyano Network – a group of schools in the Nelson Mandela Bay area, who had helped us launch our own network of schools at the very first SMT Retreat in 2012 – to return and check in on progress. Usually held in December, the long gap between events was as a result of requests from schools to reschedule to the beginning of the year in order to allow more effective follow up.

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The theme of the weekend was “Effective Leadership”, building on the first of the “5 Essential Supports” for school improvement – a framework introduced to schools at the last event. Schools had identified three main areas of focus: effective leadership for order and control; effective leadership for curriculum management; and, effective leaders taking responsibility (the first of Covey’s Seven Habits). Discussions were impassioned and inspiring, while possibly lacking the focus and practical application that we had hoped for in our planning – something we’re musing over how to remedy for future events. In particular, the Manyano team left us with a strong challenge about our role in creating opportunities for the children we serve. The 29 teachers seemed to leave the weekend encouraged and motivated, and we hope this will bear fruit at the nine schools they represent.

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Probably the most encouraging outcome of the weekend was the election of a very strong steering committee for the SSS Network, including several key principals and teachers – the “movers and shakers” if you like – in our community of schools. Watch this space for an update on developing a programme of action for the network, as this steering group meets early in the new term…

Senior School 2016 Results

Axium’s Ekukhuleni programme offers Mathematics, Science and English support to 30 Grade 12 learners selected from 6 Senior Secondary Schools in the area. Support is provided through extra tuition on Saturdays and during holiday ‘boot camps’ as well as weekday study group facilitation. Here’s what the 2016 Grade 12’s achieved, and what our trajectory looks like so far…

Axium Education aims to consistently improve Ekukhuleni student performance and tertiary placement. Our target is to achieve a 100% Bachelor pass rate (with Mathematics and Science) and for all 30 matric learners to move on to tertiary education. During 2016 we continued to make good progress towards this target. On a number of measures, our Ekukhuleni Class of 2016 is the best yet!

Measure 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Target
# of Ekukhuleni Grade 12 students 26 23 28 30 28 30
# of M&S Bachelor’s passes (%) 4 (15%) 12 (52) 14 (50) 17 (57) 21 (75) 100 %
# of passes (%) 16 (61%) 21 (91) 22 (79) 25 (83) 27 (96) 100 %
# of students with maths, physical science and English above 50 % (%) 9 (39) 8 (29) 12 (40) 15 (54) 100 %
# accessed tertiary* (%) 6 (23%) 12 (52) 20 (71) 14(47) 15 (54) 100 %
# Tertiary ‘Full Ride’** (%) 2 (8%) 3 (13) 7 (25) 5 (17) 9 (32) 75 %
% M&S Bachelor’s passes of ALL students at our partner schools 1% 2% 7% 9% 10% 5%/yr increase

Some individual highlights of 2016:

  • Zuko Sogoni achieved seven distinctions including 99% for Physical Science. He was awarded a full scholarship to study Actuarial Science at UCT and is the first learner from schools in this area to achieve a “full house” of distinctions.
  • Nine of our Ekukhuleni Grade 12’s have full tertiary funding through SAICA, Thuthuka, REAP or Umthombo Youth Development.

The graphs below illustrates the consistent growth of the programme across a number of metrics.

Ekukhuleni Pass Rate 2016

 

Maths & Science Bachelors Passes (Ekuk) 2016

 

Tertiary Full Ride 2016

 

*Given improved Grade 12 results in 2015 and 2016 we were naturally disappointed with our tertiary placement rate, compared to 2014. This is mainly due to the lack of success applying to TSiBA, where previously many of our students accessed and experienced significant success.

**’Full Ride’ = Fully funded bursary/scholarship

 

 

Meet the Team – Sinethemba Beja

Who is Sinethemba Beja?

I am someone who is ambitious but who can also be vulnerable and weak. That would describe me as a woman. As I had told you before; I am like a tree in that I believe that life has its ups and downs. Each and everyone of us experiences our own dry seasons and that, as women, we should stand together during these times.

I am also someone who believes in women taking action. Despite your age, your background, where you come from and your level of education, I believe that every woman has an ability to be who she wants to be.

How did you end up working for Axium Education?

I was previously working at Zithulele Hospital, which is close to Axium Education so I could see everything that Axium was busy doing. A friend of mine told me that they were hiring and, seeing the impact they were having on the community and on the youth of Mqanduli, I was so interested in being part of a team that believes in the future of Zithulele.

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What is your role at Axium now that you are here?

I am working as an administrator.

A crazy job.

Very.

What has been the most rewarding part of your job thus far?

The most rewarding part of my job is that I get to work with many different people who are, most of the time, all under pressure and demanding stuff.

So you like to relieve our pressure?

Kind-of. But what is really making it rewarding for me is that I feel I am actually helping even if I am not on the front row and going to schools myself. I am in the background doing something small but important.

What has been the most challenging part of your job thus far?

Sometimes I have to work with lots of stationary and equipment that gets lost and misplaced easily. I expect to find things in one team only to find that it’s not there anymore. I am still new and I’m still learning.

What are some of your own personal goals for your future?

I want to study further but the thing I feel most passionate about is ministry. I feel that there is a huge need for role models in my community and for people who are willing to stand up and do something like mentoring young people in different forms. I believe that God has given us all something; it doesn’t matter how big and how small it is. What is important is the way that you use it. I feel strongly about trying to build up people motivating them to grow into their potentials.

You are clearly very passionate about empowering young women and interested in their roles in society. What words of encouragement would you give a young female teenager from a rural community?

I will speak from my own personal experience. When I was growing up many people told me who I was and who I was going to be. People define you but their definition for you doesn’t matter. What really matters is who God says you are. What people say doesn’t define you. What your friends are doesn’t define you. Your mistakes don’t determine your destination. So I would encourage and motivate young women not to lean on other people’s views about their lives but to lean on God. To know that they can do it.

Farewell to ‘Ta Sbu’ – Science Master

Sibusiso Qwesha, aka. ‘Ta Sbu’, refuses to refer to himself as a ‘teacher’. This ‘tutor’ places great value on building meaningful relationships with his learners. They will surely miss him.

 

How long have you been working with Axium?

I’ve been with Axium since 2015, so it’s 2 years now.

What made you decide to come and work for Axium?

A friend of mine, who I studied with at varsity, told me about this wonderful opportunity with Axium. I always wanted to work in the Eastern Cape, specifically in a rural area. It all started at varsity when I tutored chemistry and I noticed that some students experienced difficulties with understanding content. Growing up in the villages myself, I could relate to some of the challenges they faced at university.

What has your role at Axium been?

I taught Physical Science mainly to the Grade 10’s and Grade 11’s.

 What has been the most challenging part of your work at Axium?

English is the first additional language of the learners we work with and there are limited resources, like textbooks, so it challenging for them to understand Scientific concepts. Axium facilitates ‘Teacher Networks’ during which teachers from different schools meet up to discuss content. It has been a challenge to get them in one room for these meetings due to their busy schedules.

Looking back at who Sibusiso was before his time with Axium, how have you changed the most as a person?

When I first came to Axium I had no teaching experience. I worked with Craig, my Boss and Mentor, who has been in teaching for years. I learnt a lot from him. Now I can safely say that I’m in a learning process to becoming a better teacher one day. I also have great relationships with the teachers and students we work with.

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Even though you have been the teacher and tutor here at Axium, what have your learners taught you?

I learnt a lot from them but I will mention only a few; with all the challenges and difficulties our learners face but they still manage to remain positive, enthusiastic, focused and dedicated. They all came from different schools but they could easily work together. Everyone learns differently, so it is important for me to approach a lesson from different perspectives, to be able to transfer knowledge in ways that can be received properly. This doesn’t only make me a better teacher but help students to learn more effectively.

In terms of the way that Axium operates, what would you change or improve for 2017?

I wouldn’t say I’d change anything; rather I would improve on community involvement and strengthen our relationships with the teachers so they can remain motivated.

Having grown up in a rural part of the Eastern Cape yourself, what advice would you give other young NGO’s operating in rural areas of South Africa?

Know the community in which your NGO operates. Learn about their culture and create more opportunities, specifically for the youth, so they can stay away from crime.

What have you found the most rewarding or enjoyable part of your job at Axium?

Working with people, including Axium staff, who are from different backgrounds. Getting to know the teachers and learners I worked with was most enjoyable part of my job.

Would you encourage other people to come and teach with Axium? Why?

Of course! Axium is doing a great job in equipping learners with knowledge and assisting them in getting into university. I must say that one should be passionate about teaching.

What does 2017 have in store for ‘Teacher’ Sibusiso Qwesha?

I will be completing my Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) while teaching Physical Science through a learnership at Pinelands High School in Cape Town.

 

 

A Long Walk to Leadership

The Masakhane Grade 8 class of 2016 went on our first Masakhane leadership camp. We’re excited about their ideas, potential, motivation and capability to take student leadership of Masakhane to the next level in 2017. Here’s what they had to say about the experience…

 

The Leadership Camp was at Hole in the Wall in Pioneer House.  On Friday, we left Zithulele in the morning to walk to Hole in the Wall. We had to cross the river. The water was too high. Thimna was crying, but we helped each other to cross. We were happy to cross. We went to the sea and then we made boats as groups. They taught us that when we do something together, we do it better. We went in the sea and we swam. It was very nice. The waves were too cool!

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We had some leadership lessons during the camp. The first lesson was about what habits are. After discussing that, everyone drew pictures of themselves showing what they were good at and what their talents were. After that, in lesson two, they drew a circle, and around it they wrote down things they do every day, like going to school. In the centre they wrote the most important thing they do. A great activity was writing down traits about being a leader, starting each line with the letters that spell the word LEADERSHIP.

In the evening, we ate dinner. It was rice and meat. It was very delicious. Then we played the chocolate game with knives and forks. The game was nice. We loved it and we were so happy! Then we watched the movie of Cinderella. We enjoyed watching the part where Cinderella was going to marry the prince. Then we went to sleep. Well some went to sleep at midnight, and some did not sleep at all! We were too excited to sleep. We were very happy to be at Hole in the Wall – we wanted to see everything.

On Saturday, we woke up in the morning. After we ate some yummy breakfast, we had more lessons about leadership. Topics we covered were how to be a good leader; what are things all leaders should do; what are your personal talents and enjoyments; what do you do in your life and what is the centre of it. And what are you going to do when you lead. Last of all, we discussed what will make Masakhane fun next year. There were also some drop-outs at Masakhane this year, so we discussed how to prevent that.

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After all that thinking, we went to the sea and then we ate lunch. After that we went to the swimming pool at Hole in the Wall Hotel. We drank milkshakes. They were delicious – strawberry and chocolate flavour. We also went shopping at the shop there. When we got back to Pioneer House, it was time to go. So we started the long walk back to Zithulele. We crossed two rivers. But this time it was easier. By the time we reached the end, it felt like a long walk to leadership. We are excited about being leaders.

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Axium-CWP Partnership: Opening More Avenues for Early Literacy

The Axium Early Literacy Programme got an opportunity to reach more schools and areas through a partnership with the Community Works Programme (CWP) under the department of COGTA and their implementing agent, Thembalethu. The training of the first intake of participants took place at the Zithulele Community Centre and library. Seen below is an introductory activity called Early Memories where participants were asked to relive their early childhood by recalling and depicting storytelling scenes from their early childhood.

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Our librarian, Ntlahla Nkqwili, shared his passion for making writing books from recycled paper with CWP participants. At the end of the training, the majority of the participants mentioned writing their own stories in the books they had made themselves as their favourite activity. They mentioned writing their own stories as a particularly motivating activity and were excited to show their siblings books authored by themselves. This is exactly the enthusiasm one hopes for in early literacy facilitators!

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This partnership means more children can be reached and get a chance to hone their early literacy skills and improve their reading for meaning ability. Further, more teachers can be assisted in building strong foundations for both academic success and a critical outlook to life in the early stages of childhood. But most importantly, as our partners emphasised, some of the unemployed youth will get an opportunity which has the potential to shape their future prospects by increasing their employability and will allow them to become role models for children in their community. It is an opportunity for the participants’ personal growth and development through being part of a solution to the literacy crisis faced by the country in general, and specifically, in their own community.

Finishing the training means that we have an energetic group of people ready and eager to facilitate early literacy growth. This means we will be scaling our programme next year by adding three more schools in an area we would otherwise not afford to reach. We are appreciative of this initiative with our partners, CWP and Ithembalethu (the Implementing Agent), and are looking forward to a great working relationship with them next year as we learn together.

The training ended with each participant receiving a certificate of participation to acknowledge their efforts. Seen below is certificate giving ceremony with Axium facilitators and CWP participants in Lutubeni JSS, one of the Axium-CWP schools.

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Bootcamp Highlights

Here are some highlights from the last Axium Bootcamp of 2016!

Masakhane

 

Since the Grade 8’s just completed Axium’s first Leadership Camp, they were eager to take a leadership role in this Masakhane Bootcamp. The grade 8’s led the morning welcome sessions, running a variety of games and songs of their creation and choosing. They also had the task of introducing next year’s grade 6 students to Masakhane and encouraging them throughout the week.

 

The grade 8’s also took on the challenge of pulling together a production of The Jungle Book. They learnt their lines, made props, and taught the songs to lower grades.

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The Jungle Book performance was tied into Friday’s Reading Club Literacy Festival. This was a first time event where members of surrounding reading clubs were able to showcase their talents of singing, drama, and dance to the community.

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Finally , amidst all of the poetry, drama, and rehearsals we got a chance to run around in the sun for a few hours for a Masakhane sports day…

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Our final Ekukhuleni Bootcamp for grades 10 to 12 learners for 2016 had plenty of hello’s and goodbye’s. It was the 2017 grade 10’s Ekukhuleni debut. The skills and energy these young learners brought with them to the classroom certainly inspired the Axium teaching team. They were confident, creative and curious which made for very engaging lessons. We were fortunate to have three very passionate guests, Mike, Hayley and Josh join for the Bootcamp week.

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Mike taught Physical Science, Hayley taught English and Josh taught Mathematics. Their lessons were thoroughly enjoyed by the learners and we thank them for taking the time to join us. They brought energy and fresh ideas to our Ekukhuleni classrooms. We appreciate our volunteers!

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It was a huge treat for both Axium learners and teachers to enjoy Josh’s magic performances.

 

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Amidst all the fun our learners also showed great academic dedication and perseverance. The grade 12’s of 2017 braved a Mathematics lesson using computers using Excel for sequences and series! We were also able to give congratulate our hard-working Mathematics Olympiad participants.

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Another ‘hello’; Mbuyekezi, a 2015 matric and current UCT student assisted in the Bootcamp Mathematics lessons. It is always a pleasure to have our Axium Alumni join us during their university holidays.

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Finally, our goodbye’s, we closed our Bootcamp with a Matric farewell prize giving and celebration. It was a special time of reflecting on their past three years as members of our Ekukhuleni study programme. Each learner was honored for his or her hard work and dedication with fun individual prizes and certificates.

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The final and saddest goodbye of the week was to Sibusiso Qwesha, our Physical Science teacher of two years. The learners had an opportunity to send him off with a war cry, a few heartfelt speeches and written letters of appreciation. ‘Ta Sbu’ (as his learners affectionately refer to him by)’s caring nature, compassion and humble approach will be missed by all.

We look back with gratitude and ahead with expectancy!

 

Careers in Context with Thuliswa

Thuliswa Nodada has added immense value to the Axium team this year. She reflects on her experience as our (first ever) careers counsellor.

 

Briefly describe what your role entails here at Axium.

Firstly, my role is to assist learners and community members in accessing career information through expos and by researching and distributing relevant information that will assist and empower them to make informed decisions about their futures.

Secondly, my role is to assist in translating that information into actions and assisting in the planning and mapping of career paths by having one-on-one sessions where necessary to offer guidance. I further assist in applications to tertiary institutions.

Lastly, I go beyond the call of duty by spending time bonding with the Axium team.

Now that most application processes are finished, what would you say has been the most challenging part of your work? 

Handling people’s futures and being a part of the decision making process in that regard. Sometimes there seemed to be a huge disconnection between their present and their future; some learners and community members were unsure about what they wanted and did not understand the reasons behind their decisions. Getting all the relevant documents at the right time. Waiting, waiting, waiting with hope after submitting their applications.

What has your experience at Axium taught you about the accessibility of tertiary education in South Africa.

You have to know the system to play the system. After understanding a few institutions a little bit better it became easier to access their services. The ways in which schools and tertiary institutions operate often clash with each other. School reports are too late for application due dates. You have to learn to work with both.

Going forward, how could people living in cities assist you with your work as remote volunteers?

Come here and share about the work you do. Take a matric, who is interested in your field of study or work, under your wing and share your experiences. Your experience will speak volumes and tell them everything that the tertiary prospectus fails to mention.

In terms of the ways Axium offers careers guidance and assistance, what is the first change or improvement you would make for 2017?

Definitely get the learners more involved in their own application processes.

What has been the most rewarding part of your time in careers at Axium?

Development of friendships with my colleagues and the learners. My heart skips a beat every time I receive a positive ‘conditionally accepted’ response for a learner.