Johannesburg - Sibusiso Mahamba’s aim for his matric year has been to improve his maths results, so that he can enrol for a Bachelor of Commerce degree next year.
For Mahamba, attending the Senior Secondary Improvement Programme (Ssip), hosted at his school, Phandimfundo Secondary in Etwatwa, is one way to improve his maths marks.
During the holidays, Mahamba, 17, and his classmates are not getting any time to rest. Instead, they are attending extra classes at school, as part of the Gauteng Education Department's Ssip programme.
Two other secondary schools - Amos Maphanga and Harry Gwala - have been paired with Phandimfundo for the Ssip programme.
“Through this last push, I think I am becoming ready day by day. I have been struggling with mathematics literacy.
“Although people say it is easy, I have found some things hard. I think I am improving bit by bit. In the second term, I achieved a level five pass, which was an improvement from the first term’s level four pass. With the programme, my marks should improve in the final exams,” Mahamba said.
He said being taught by different subject expert teachers was helping his knowledge of schoolwork.
“There are different teachers, but it is very helpful to be taught by them. They all see things differently and you get knowledge that you might have missed from your own teacher,” he said.
This is the point of the programme, according to Vincent Zulu, senior manager for school support. During a visit to the programme at Phandimfundo, Zulu said the department had at least 70 000 matric candidates currently attending extra classes this holiday. Some of the candidates went to classes at walk-in centres, while others stayed at sleepover camps.
Zulu said because of the different backgrounds that the candidates come from, there might be problems experienced at the camps, but teachers and parents were willing to instil discipline.
“These learners are from different backgrounds and different economic situations, and this dictates the type of behaviour you find in schools. However, the department has policies and systems.
“We have personnel and parents that are roped in at the camps to ensure there is order. We have teachers who also manage the camps,” he said.
This was corroborated by economics teacher and deputy principal Rothi Makhubela, who said: “Some of the challenges we have in our community are drug abuse and discipline.
"We have the Life Orientation department dealing with the drug issues and also (have a) relationship with social workers. These are not huge problems. The learners are from the same environment, so it is easy to deal with issues.”
Makhubela said the school achieved a matric pass rate of 81.2 percent and hoped to increase it to 90 percent this year.
Makhubela, who has been a teacher for 13 years, said the Ssip project was not only beneficial for the matric candidates but for teachers as well.
“What is exciting is that I teach economics at my school and now I am with an economics teacher from another school, and we get to share ideas and different methods of teaching.
"This, at the end of day, is how we improve our results,” she said.