Helping less privileged kids to count

Bhoost Tutoring partners Pontsho Maleka with co-founders Nokwazi Zwane, Marinda Mhlongo and Sthembiso Mbanjwa.
Bhoost Tutoring partners Pontsho Maleka with co-founders Nokwazi Zwane, Marinda Mhlongo and Sthembiso Mbanjwa.

It was the desire to change the sorry state of mathematics teaching and pass rate for the better that spurred childhood friends to start their own tutoring service.

Social entrepreneurs Nokwazi Zwane from Mbombela and Marinda Mhlongo from Malelane in Mpumalanga joined forces earlier this year to tackle the national maths literacy crisis in their own way by establishing Bhoost Tutoring.

They offer extra maths lessons to children from underprivileged backgrounds to break the myth that the subject is difficult and for the elite.

"It's not that difficult when you think about it because it is something people improve in with practice," Zwane said.

"To be honest, a lot of the time it is parents and teachers who fail their children by not paying attention to their studies."

The 26-year-old duo have been operating their service with a business-to-business model, which means they do not charge learners for the lessons.

"At the moment we are looking for partnerships from other organisations for our funding. We give the kids lessons for free and try to pack them sandwiches every time we have classes," Mhlongo said.

"It has been quite challenging because we have been using our own money."

Zwane is studying to become a maths teacher at the University of Pretoria while Mhlongo has a degree in microbiology and biochemistry from Wits.

As passionate advocates for numeracy, they believe that one of the solutions to solving the education problem in the country is to reduce the number of subjects in SA's education system.

"Kids are being made to learn subjects that are not going to take them anywhere. This is why we should cut the quantity and make them learn subjects that will take them somewhere.

"A general focus on maths and science is needed in schools. We also need to look at the root of the problems which we find in our basic education [system]."

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