Themba Mnisi manages the internet centre and laboratory at the Leboneng Education Centre in Namakgale. Themba is particularly proud of the well-equipped laboratory that the learners use mostly over weekends to experiment with the weird and wonderful in the world of science. He makes sure the equipment stays in good shape and they have what they need to make their magic.
His day is not only devoted to the immediate needs of the learners, but also focusses on their future and how he can help them.
“We assist learners so that they can write the National Benchmarking Test (NBT) at the Leboneng Centre, instead of travelling to Giyani and Polokwane. is saves their parents a lot of money in transport.” The tests are important to those learners who need to measure their academic readiness for university.
“Helping the kids makes me feel good. Especially if it is someone who comes to me and says it is ‘because of you that I can graduate.’ And even more so when it is someone who was so poor she went to school without anything.”
Audrey Malatje comes to mind. “ The Palabora Foundation paid her registration fee at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT).” She went there even though she did not know how she was going to pay for her tuition. Themba, without her knowledge, applied for nancial assistance through the government funded National Financial Aid Scheme (Nesfas). Most tertiary institutions have a Nesfas office on site.
“She was surprised when Nesfas called her to their office to sign the contract. She did not know how it happened and then phoned me. I told her all I want from her was that she pass all her subjects. She did that, completed a B.Tech and will graduate in May this year.”
Themba believes he has learnt as much over the years from the learners as they have learnt from him. “It is like your child at home. You think you are playing with him, and then all of a sudden, you see it is you who are learning a new thing.”
With the Foundation’s new drive on fundraising and self-sustainability, Themba hopes a donor will share his vision to introduce accounting to the Learner Support Programme.
“I believe there are many children who want to and need to do work in the commercial stream and I have seen what this programme have done over the years for our maths and science learners. It can do the same for our commercial learners.”
Themba has been with the Palabora Foundation since the introduction of the Master Mathematics and Science Programmes in 1998. Apart from guiding learners online as and where needed to do their research for assignments, he also helps them on how to layout and present their findings for good results.
“We also help learners to gather information when they develop their projects for the Science Expo that is a Palabora Foundation event.”