When you mention the subject Mathematical literacy to anyone, it usually rouses the stereotypical comment that it a subject for lazy or even “dumb” people. It is overlooked by most schools and even tutoring centres. However, one young man has taken it upon himself to eliminate the stigma. He has also brought the culture of tutoring, which is uncommon in townships.
“Sir” Sithembiso Ngwenyama hails from the dusty township of Matsulu C in Mpumalanga. He has been helping the black child achieve their dream by helping them improve their marks in Mathematical Literacy for the past 8 years. Sir believes that this overlooked subject deserves the spotlight because not only does it improve logical and reasoning skills, it also increases the level of comprehension of the English language amongst learners.
Sithembiso was doing his matric year when a bunch of his peers approached him requesting assistance with Maths lit because he was performing exceptionally in the subject. The lack of tutors in said subject also pushed them towards him. The love of helping others developed.
He passed his matric and decided to enrol at the university of Mpumalanga as a day student in 2016 studying towards his Diploma in Hospitality. After school, he would have some grade 11 and 12 learners come to his home to assist them at no cost. This gave rise to the “Sir” nickname. The community showed him support by recommending learners to him which humbled him and it grew the seed of helping that had been sown the year before.
Over the years he continued with assisting learners which yielded good results for them. One of his proudest moments was when he was asked to come help at tutoring centre called Imphumelelo Eco-system at Kutsalani in Kabokweni. The centre was co-established by Mbali Dlamini and it targeted LQBTQ+ students in the area. Sir was there for almost two years, with the centre taking care of his transport costs as the centre was 51 km away from him.
Sithembiso’s studies required him to go to Cape Town in 2019 for his practical’s so he created a WhatsApp group which he used to answer all their questions and also provide question papers. His determination to make a difference was not even hindered by the pandemic. He continued to use WhatsApp as a way to communicate with the learners so they would not fall behind on their studies.
It was only in 2021 where he started charging the learners for his services because printing papers was excessively expensive and he had no one to sponsor him. The learners obliged with his request due to the fact that they had seen how he helped improve the marks of their peers. The following year, he did not have enough space at his house, so he offered himself to learners who had study groups at their schools. This was free of charge service. He only got paid R100 as token of appreciation by the circuit manager.
In order to continue doing what he loves, he officially opened a tutoring centre in his church in 2022. This also prompted him add two more subjects, Agricultural Sciences and Life Sciences, which gave rise to the Sir Sithembiso and Associates Tutoring centre. He charges R100 per 30-day cycle so he can equip himself and his associate, Mdu, with the required resources.
Sirs vision to have tutoring accessible is slowly being realised and his impact has been substantial to his community and with their support, he has continued to do the Lord’s work without fail to this day.