In a recent report from the World Economic Forum, South Africa was placed last out of 148 countries in terms of the quality of its maths and science education. Many have argued that the ranking is not objective as it’s based on the opinions of SA business leaders, as opposed to school pass marks, but regardless, there’s no hiding from the fact that South Africa is facing an education crisis of epic proportions.
Lebang Nong is one person who’s determined to turn this situation around. When his school’s Grade 11 Maths teacher was involved in a car accident in 2004, Lebang set up a tutoring programme to assist his fellow learners in preparing for their exams. After continuing with the programme in his matric year, and expanding it to include learners from neighboring schools, Lebang officially established the NPO, Katleho Pele Education, in 2006. Now in its eighth year, this tutoring and mentorship organisation has achieved outstanding results! Lebang and his co-workers tutor learners in English, Maths, Science, Accounting and Physics, as well as providing training in interview techniques and assisting learners with university applications. The majority of their learners come from previously disadvantaged schools in Soweto, and are generally under-performing when they enter the Katleho Pele Education programme. Through the programme’s Saturday tutoring sessions, together with the mentorship they receive, these learners see a massive improvement in their exam results. In 2013, Katleho Pele Education achieved an astounding 100% pass rate for their participating matric learners, with the vast majority of the learners receiving bachelor passes, allowing them entrance to university. One young man from Protea Glen Secondary School obtained 90% in Mathematics and 84% in Physical Sciences, after getting 40% for Maths in Grade 11. He is now studying a BSc in Mathematical Sciences at Wits University. According to Nong, many of their learners go on to study at Wits and the University of Johannesburg, receiving degrees in Applied Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering and Accounting.
Lebang Nong’s CV reads like that of someone 20 years his senior. In 2013 Nong was named as one of 200 Young South Africans ‘you must take to lunch’ – the Mail & Guardian’s list of young people who will shape South Africa in the decades to come. In May 2014 Nong was named as one of South Africa’s 30 most influential young people, in addition to being a ‘Global Shaper’ for the World Economic Forum – an organisation of young people who are considered exceptional in their potential, their achievements and their drive to make a contribution to their communities.
It is because of people like Lebang Nong, and organisations like the Creating Schools Programme*, that South Africa cannot fail. When you have that much heart (combined with a very level head) there’s only one way but up. A grateful thanks to Lebang and his dedicated team at Katleho Pele Education – what an incredible inspiration they all are!
* Click here to read about how the Programme’s involvement in Vele Secondary School led to the Grade 12 pass rate going from 38% in 2009 to just over 93% in 2013.