The school bell rang. There was excitement in the school corridors as learners rushed for the exit door. But Analo was not going home early today. She was joining the after-school programme. She didn’t know what to expect from the tutoring sessions and this made her nervous. What if she still didn’t understand anything? Perhaps chemistry and physics were just not for her.

Analo was surprised to find Lilitha in the tutoring classroom! Why had Lilitha never told her she got help after school ? She hadn’t even told Analo about these classes, when she knew she was struggling.

“Good afternoon, bafundi. And to those who have joined us today, we welcome you guys,” the tutor said, looking at Analo. “I’m bhut’Thulani and this is bhut’Vusi,” he said and pointed to his colleague. “And over there is sis’Lungiswa. We are not teachers but tutors, so please don’t call us sir or madam. We are here to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask us if you don’t understand something. That’s why we are here.”

The learners chuckled.

“Let’s start by rearranging the desks to sit in groups of five, so that we can all help each other,” Thulani said.

The learners quickly rearranged the desks with the help of their tutors. There were three groups in total. Analo and Lilitha were in the same group.

“Hi. This is your first session, right?” a boy who sat next to Analo asked.

“Ewe,” she said with a nod.

“Well, I’m Linam,” he introduced himself, with a sweet smile. Analo had seen him at school but they had never spoken.

“I’m Analo.”

“Nice to meet you Analo.”

Lilitha frowned at Linam and Analo. She clearly didn’t like the attention Linam was giving her friend. Analo noticed, but Linam didn’t seem to care.

“Aren’t you supposed to be in Mrs Kholi’s class? She said those who failed the test must stay after school today as she wants to speak to you,” Lilitha asked Analo.

“She postponed the meeting til next week Monday because Xolani and Vuyani are absent again. And you don’t have to remind me that I have failed the test,” Analo said. Her tone shut Lilitha up.

Analo was angry at Lilitha for not telling her that she was attending the extra classes. Their friendship had been tricky since primary school, where Lilitha had been jealous of Analo’s achievements. And even now in high school, in class she pretended to not know how to solve most of the problems when they were given homework and Analo asked for her help.

Analo was new to the high school and Lilitha was the only person who she knew. They were from the same township. Analo’s parents had taken her out of the school she attended in Lower Crossroads and enrolled her in this school in Gugulethu, when Lilitha’s mom had advised her friend, Nomalizo, that her daughter was excelling there. She said the school was good in maths and science and Analo’s parents had high hopes for her to become an engineer.

Lilitha could not be jealous of Analo’s marks now. She was doing better than her. It was something else. And by the looks Lilitha was giving her, that ‘something’ was a somebody called Linam.

“Each group will have one of us to help them,” Thulani said, walking over to Analo’s group. “We will be working on a series of problems.” He handed them the exercise sheets.

They took their books out and began working on the problems. Analo could barely move her pen. She was struggling to balance equations. Thulani noticed. “Do you need help?” he smiled.

“I understand that equation. I’ll help Analo,” Linam offered.

Linam was good explaining and Analo began to understand but the problems were difficult.

The tutoring session seemed to last forever. Even though the tutor was kind and helped, Analo still felt lost.

“Do you need help, Analo?” Thulani had noticed her struggling and Linam helping her.

“No. I’m fine thanks,” she lied. She felt she had asked for too much help already and she didn’t want Lilitha to humiliate her even more.

“Okay guys, you can take a short break,” Thulani told the class. Analo felt relieved as they made their way outside.


Tell us: What do you think of working in groups with a tutor, like this?