By Nomkhosi Khumalo
Mashudu ‘Freddy’ Marubini of Thengwe High School, LIMPOPO
Mashudu ‘Freddy’ Marubini is rightly considered one of South Africa’s top-performing school teachers. In 2014 he was chosen as the South African Maths teacher of the year. On the strength of this, he was selected to be one of five teachers who featured in the Radio Lessons initiative put together by Kagiso Trust and the Limpopo Department of Education to provide radio lessons to grade 12 Limpopo learners during a lockdown.
Mr Marubini currently teaches Grade 12 mathematics at Thengwe High School where he is the head of department for mathematics. Under his guidance 20 learners achieved distinctions in mathematics in the 2013 matric exams and in 2018 of the four learners who got full marks for maths; three of them were from his school.
He’s passionate about teaching and attributes his love of maths and teaching in part to a great teacher who would often let him help teach in class, “I knew then that I would become an educator.” Mr Marubini has been teaching since 1999.
He’s used to putting in long hours. He starts his school day at 6 am and goes through to 6 pm with a series of extra classes. On weekends, he offers extra classes to learners at his school and at another school in Thohoyandou. But it doesn’t stop there. On Saturday evenings he will often find himself giving lessons out of his garage at home. He has also embraced technology in helping to support his learners through lessons on a Facebook page and a WhatsApp group.
He also has a strong message for parents: “Monitor your child’s study timetable and support with any study materials. When your child is in grade 12, you’re also in grade 12.”
Teaching during the Covid-19 lockdown was particularly challenging, but we did our best to work with what we had. WhatsApp is an app that most of our students were able to access, if not on their phone, then on someone else’s phone in the community. I created a WhatsApp group and continued tuition through tests and examples, where students could ask questions and I could reply with examples. Additionally, I recorded lessons on Facebook. The problem however with the Facebook lessons is that because the school is situated within a disadvantaged community, many of the students do not have access to either a device or cannot afford data. To give a better idea of the level of impoverishment within the community, it is a fact that many of my learners go to bed hungry. The school is surrounded by RDP houses where as many as 5 or more people live in one of these tiny dwellings and in many cases, learners come from a child headed family or who have both parents not working.
Many of these families do not have access to even a smartphone or TV, so the opportunity for these learners to access remote tuition via these means is extremely limited. However, most families have a radio. So, Kagiso Trust’s Radio Lessons became an important supplementary means of tuition. It gave learners, who would not otherwise have had the opportunity, access to tuition.
Talking about the Radio Lessons during lockdown, Mr Marubini commented, “It needs special skills for presentation because you have to present everything in a chapter in less than an hour.” “You should also be able to explain in such a way that pupils can visualise what you’re teaching.” Not an easy task!
It is Marubini’s love and passion for his subject and teaching that sets him apart and inspires those that he teaches. We’re sure he will inspire teachers of the future in the same way his teacher did all those years ago.