When she realised her own teenage children were not doing as well as they could be doing at school, retired teacher Julia Finya decided it was time to get back into teaching.
And so she started working with pupils from Mfuleni, Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain and Philippi.
She had retired in 2012 but believed she still had much to plough back into the community – which she did by teaching young people from Grades 1 to 7.
Ms Finya had previously taught at Sonwabo and Zimasa primary schools in Gugulethu and Langa, respectively.
To promote her initiative, she approached local radio stations, using the platform to call on young people to attend the sessions she held at the Site C, Khayelitsha and Philippi libraries.
She also approached schools directly.
“It is amazing how things work out – or could work out. We all know that many parents are illiterate (but) today’s education (system) needs their participantion in children’s homework. But this is like a farfetched dream for many children. This is where I come in. I am filling that space. I take their homework and teach them the DBE (Department of Basic Education) book at length. I do languages and maths mostly,” she explained.
Despite her humourous approach, Ms Finya has faced a fair number of challenges, among them having to buy her own materials, a lack of space and not having enough books for the children.
“I have a certain grade at a particular time. But transport has been a problem because most children are from far. The space that I use is very small and lack of material is another challenge. But I chose to do this, and I will continue until I see the need to stop. I will buy charts for as long as I can afford them. But I would not refuse help from good Samaritans. The truth is we need more material,” she said.
Grade 6 pupil Bongekile Maqhutyana has a learning disability, but wants to learn more. She was so excited when a friend told here there was somebody helping young people with their education.
The Nolungile Primary School pupil said she immediately approached Ms Finya to be part of the after-school classes. She recently started attending the classes.
“I feel empowered by mama Julia. I was struggling with maths, English and IsiXhosa badly. I now see the difference,” she said.
Ms Finya said she still has to make contact with Bongekile’s teachers to find out how she is doing at school. However, she is also happy with her progress thus far.
Parent Nomathamsanqa Guga commended Ms Finya. While she hasn’t been to the classes, she said she had seen many children going there. “I like what I always see. I believe she is keeping children away from the streets,” she said.
You can contact Ms Finya at 076 833 2180