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A South African educator has been named the teacher of the year by the Global Education Awards, which were held in Dubai over the weekend.

The teacher, Khangelani Sibiya, beat contenders from 79 countries to win the prestigious award.

Sibiya is a maths and science teacher from Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The Global Education awards are given to educators who use innovation and creativity in the teaching and learning methods.

Sibiya fits the bill. He uses traditional music and indigenous languages to help teach his students maths and science.

The languages he uses to teach are Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu.

In general, only English and Afrikaans are universal in schools in South Africa — while indigenous languages are often only taught as subjects, instead of being the medium of instruction.

Meanwhile, a study by the University of South Africa states that using a child’s mother tongue is one of the most effective ways of teaching them to perform well cognitively.

Sibiya’s day job is at Siphumelele Secondary School in King Cetshwayo district. On weekends, he also offers lessons and other academic support to several schools in the area through his non governmental organisation, KWV Tutoring.

Sibiya founded KWV Tutoring in 2008 as a way to reach as many pupils as possible with his vibrant approach to teaching maths and science — and he says he has already reached more than 25,000 learners.

“Mr. Khangelani Sibiya is changing the face of mathematics and science from subjects most hated, avoided, and failed, into subjects that are loved, passed, and mastered by pupils,” said the department of education in KZN in a press statement.

The statement also praised his use of social trends like dance, sports, and popular songs in his teaching.

“It promotes global education that brings about change through creativity, participation, and innovation,” the department added.


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A South African Maths and Science Teacher Was Just Named Teacher of the Year

By Lerato Mogoatlhe