Kudos to tutors for closing the academic gap

Dr Bwapwa, fourth from left, with his tutors

Like all post-school education institutions, MUT utilises tutors to assist students with their course material to improve their academic performance, which leads to a better throughput rate. At least two of the University’s academics, Dr Vince Ndou of the Department of Community Extension, and Dr Joseph Bwapwa of the Department of Civil Engineering, rely on the work of tutors to help students with their academic work. “Tutors can help strengthen subject comprehension, boost confidence, and build important learning skills to students,” said Dr Ndou, who is a Lecturer. Dr Ndou said he has always believed that supplemental learning to students was the best way of improving understanding of course content because tutoring gives students individualized attention that they do not get in a crowded classroom during the normal lecture times. Dr Ndou said he uses tutors from the Department of Community Extension to increase the throughput rate for the agricultural modules he teaches. He said one of those tutors also helps to keep students on track during their study time during recess.

Similarly, Dr Bwapwa said that unlike lecturers, tutors form personal relationships with students, which makes it easier for students to approach tutors about their academic challenges. Dr Bwapwa also said that the relationship between tutors and lecturers channels the former towards a career in academia. “Such a relationship may be part of succession planning,” said Dr Bwapwa. Dr Bwapwa added that he picked one of the best students to help in tackling students’ academic issues in order to produce well-equipped engineers.

Dr Bwapwa has nine tutors who assist over 400 students that he lectures across three levels of study. Some of these tutors are Thabani Sikhakhane, an S4 student; Ngcebo Kunene, an S3 student; Xolani Nkosi, another S3 student; Ayanda Gumede, an S2 student; and Ximba Minenhle, another S3 student. Dr Bwapwa said that what encouraged him was that he had people he looked up to when he was a student. For him the tutoring system gives tutors the same opportunity.

One of the tutors, Mfundo Mlambo, an S3 student, said his duties were helping students to cope with academic work. “I inspire them and share tricks on how to master exam questions, and understand the dynamics of life at the university,” said Mfundo.

Tshifhiwa Muravha, an S4 student, said that being a tutor has helped her personally and professionally. She said she learnt time management, among other things. Tshifhiwa heaped praises upon Dr Bwapwa for guiding her through S1.