Panic over maths backlog

Larna Cupido and Ameerah Jeffries.

Grade 12 pupils of Sibelius High School, in Retreat, have been worried about “falling behind” in their mathematics classes after their teacher fell ill.

Although the Grade 10, Grade 11 and Grade 12 pupils missed out on maths lessons, the Grade 12 pupils were impacted the most.

They said they found it difficult to cope trying to “catch up” with the extra tuition provided for them at school.

However, Armien Samodien, principal, said they managed to intervene after their permanent teacher fell ill although it took a while to get a substitute teacher. “The school only received the teacher’s medical certificate on Tuesday February 14, after the teacher took off ill. He tried to teach again, but he couldn’t cope (due to his illness). I even spoke to the doctor myself. He has been put off for the rest of this term.”

Sibelius now has a substitute pure maths teacher.

Millicent Merton, spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), said: “The department has approved the appointment of an educator to teach mathematics at the school after the previous teacher fell ill.

“The school must be commended for making alternative arrangements to ensure that learners received mathematics lessons in the interim.

“Our district office will provide the necessary support to the school to help prepare learners for their matric exams.”

Before the new teacher was appointed the school requested Steenberg and Crestway high schools who offered their service to teach maths to the Grade 12s.

“Mark de Freitas, from Crestway High School taught them maths on Tuesdays and Thursday from 7am to 8am and on Fridays from 2pm to 5pm. And Ridwaan Gaffoor of Steenberg High taught them on Sunday mornings from 9am to noon.”

Mr Samodien said when the new teacher started the more experienced Mr Gaffoor and Mr De Freitas have stepped in to assist him.

However, Ameerah Jefferies, a Grade 12 pupil said, she is trying her best to cope with all the catching up. “It is difficult to understand math and I would like to study to be a veterinarian or a foundation phase teacher next year, so I need to get good marks in not only maths, but English and Afrikaans as well before I submit my results to various universities.”

She said she decided to get extra tuition at Living Through Learning, in Wynberg (a registered non-profit organisation/public benefit organisation in the education sector, assisting in the literacy and technical subject arenas to uplift and equip disadvantaged youth with the requisite skills to succeed in life), on Saturdays. “My friend Jadine de Koker recommended this institute and I am very happy with them.”

Ameerah is very ambitious, according to her mother Muneeba Jefferies. “But she is working too hard. She also tutors physical science to her friend Larna Cupido, a Grade 10 pupil from Sibelius High.”

As a single mother she is struggling and she wants to see her daughter pass with good marks.