Top South African maths teacher shares tips to help your child thrive

Top South African maths teacher shares tips to help your child thrive

Albert Mohitlhi shares his inspirational story of what made him become one of the best maths teachers in South Africa and how parents can help their children thrive.

Albert Mohitlhi
Albert Mohitlhi/ Supplied

It has been reported that mathematics outcomes in South Africa are among the worst in the world.

IOL reports that of the almost 600,000 candidates who wrote matric in 2020, only 5.3% scored 60% or more for mathematics.

Albert Mohitlhi, who won the Excellence in Teaching Mathematics in 2021 at the National Teacher's Awards, says one of the challenges that South Africa is dealing with is the lack of motivation in schools.

The educator says teachers play a role when it comes to motivating learners to perform well in mathematics. He also says there are programmes that schools can run to encourage more pupils to study maths.

Albert reflects on a maths competition he took part in when he was in primary school, which made him discover how good he was with numbers.

READ: New maths measures a step in the right direction: expert

He also says his teachers, namely Mrs Stuurman and Mr Phepheng, were so passionate about maths that it rubbed off on him.

The two teachers were not only competent, but they made maths lessons a fun learning activity. They also displayed commitment and encouraged the learners every time they performed well.

As one of the best maths teachers in South Africa, he says what makes his skills extraordinary is that he goes the extra mile, puts in extra effort, and puts more hours into his work.

“That little extra time, effort, and work you do when everyone goes average and according to norm time, makes you extraordinary.”

He adds that what is more fulfilling is “doing something good and impactful without expecting anything in return”.

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Tips to help learners thrive in Maths

Albert says it is important to understand that there are four types of learners; those who want to do mathematics, those who can do maths, those who do not want to do mathematics, and those who cannot do mathematics.

He says the three tips he can give to learners to help them thrive in mathematics is practice, developing a relationship with the teachers, and having a positive attitude.

“Practice will open the doors of learning new things and in a way, you learn also about misconceptions in the concepts of mathematics.  Mathematics cannot be visited but rather needs lots and lots of practice on a daily basis,” says Albert.

He adds that as a learner, “you need to communicate with your teachers about your strengths and weaknesses and that will help you know mathematics more”.

Albert says a “positive attitude will take you a long way in terms of how you handle your results, whether good or bad”.

The educator and deputy school principal has started his own foundation aimed at assisting children thrive in their learning.

“Mohitlhi Foundation is aiming at assisting learners who are passionate about mathematics with resources as uniform, maths instruments, books, mentoring, coaching and tutoring.”

He says one of his success stories is how the foundation sent one scholar to one of the best universities in South Africa, UCT, and supported him with resources and mentoring.

Albert, who grew up in a poor family where his mother was a domestic worker and father a gardener, says scholars should never allow their disadvantaged backgrounds to stop them from achieving their dreams.

He says when he won the best teacher in maths competition, it was proof that coming from a poor family or disadvantaged community is not an excuse to not become great.

“I felt victory that indeed, the location where God placed you is never a mistake and the location will never deny you opportunities. You are as good as a teacher in the urban areas and in the city. The rural area doesn’t limit your potential.”

The educator says learners from disadvantaged families or backgrounds must realise their own potential and believe in themselves.

“It starts with you and no one will push you to your success but yourself. The world is ready for people who are prepared. Preparation is key and opportunities are given to all and only those who are prepared will get an opportunity, despite your location.”

READ: How to help your child improve in Maths and Science

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