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SA teacher wins gong for his efforts in China

Yoliswa Sobuwa Journalist

It was Ndumiso Chili's unique pupil-centred teaching methodologies that earned him an award as the best international teacher expert of the year.

Chili, 25, a teacher at Johnson's International School in China, achieved a 100% pass rate in biology.

Chili, from KwaDukuza in KwaZulu-Natal, is an English and biology teacher for grade 10 and 12 at the school that has about 64 international teachers from countries like the US, UK, Columbia, Ireland and Mexico.

In just a year he achieved a 100% pass rate for biology with 95% of the pupils achieving straight As.

"It was difficult at first as their English was really not so good. However, as a teacher, I had to make it work. I had to adjust my methods of teaching that I was taught back at home to more American teaching methods, which I mastered within two months.

"Because of my dedication, I made history in my district for achieving 100% in biology, something that had not happened in the past eight years," he said.

Chili, who is currently enrolled for his master's degree in education with the University of Hong Kong, graduated from the University of Pretoria last year.

After he graduated, he worked as a social sciences and language teacher at Hlabelela Primary School in Bronkhorstspruit for three months.

In his time at Hlabelela he saw an advert for a teaching post at the school in China and applied. He got the job as an English expert but the school later realised his passion for social science.

Johnson's International School principal Wang Xiu Ying said Chili brings a lot to the school, which is why they were giving him the award.

"He brings academic concepts to life with visual and practical learning experiences, helping his students to understand how their schooling applies in the real world.

Many foreign teachers fail at disciplining our students without infringing the constitution of our country.

"I was impressed with how he exploits technological advancements to make his lessons active and interesting," Ying said.

Chili said Ying was immensely impressed by his teaching methodologies and that she asked him to take up new responsibilities of further teaching biology to senior secondary pupils.

"The aim is to revolutionise the whole teaching experience and make it a fashionable thing," Chili said.

He said his teaching skills in assessing the learning gap and prior knowledge, then building on the knowledge that the pupils have already acquired, has proven to be effective.

"To teach my learners in a fun and interactive way. I always make sure to engage and involve them in my lessons," Chili said.

"The reason I am so passionate about teaching these kids is really because I see them as my own. I treat them like how I would treat my own children, disciplining them accordingly as per guides of the education bureau, of course," he said.

He said he was grateful to his mentor and coach professor Chika Sehoole, the dean of the faculty of education at the University of Pretoria, who trained him from 2016 to date.

Chili said he was also thankful for the support from his family, especially his parents.

Ndumiso's former colleague and principal at Hlabelela, Likeleli Matlala-Anokwuru, described him as a young, energetic educator who is passionate about teaching.

"His love for learners at our school was phenomenal. He was a disciplinarian and showed compassion for the learners. He was eager and always willing to learn. His ambition made him to seek more teaching experience in other countries.

"He left our school for China and has been in contact with us on a regular basis. It was truly a blessing to have such a young, ambitious and self-motivated teacher like him," said Matlala-Anokwuru.