Sandi Chemeze only needs to say a few words and order returns to an unruly classroom. Although he humbly credits learners for giving this respect, colleagues know that Sandi really earns such regard from everyone around him with his tall stately figure, gentle voice, and observant presence.
When Sandi joined the team earlier this year, he agreed to shape his position through the various responsibilities he took on. These have included managing discipline and assisting with administration at senior schools, monitoring Paragon tutors, and engaging with learners on a one-on-one basis.
The mentoring dimension of his role is something he particularly enjoys, and an essential area the team hopes to build. “I sometimes get to do one-on-ones with grade 12s where I talk to them about what do they want to do after matric and what are their plans, where have they applied,” Sandi explained. “If they have not yet applied, why, and what are their problems back at home so that we can know what challenges they’ve faced at home and we can help with anything like that.”
If he sees an issue in a learner’s behaviour, attendance or results, his approach is to speak to them, find out whether there is a problem, and offer support.
Sandi says he actively applies values gained in the course of his studies at TSIBA in his job now. He completed a Higher Certificate in Practical Business Administration at TSIBA’s Karatara campus in 2015 and 2016. More even than his academic programme, he now draws on the values that were emphasised there, including responsibility, communication, integrity, resilience and initiative. “Those values, they make it easy for me to work with these young students,” he said.
Sandi was not always planning to study business. Raised in Coffee Bay, he completed high school at St John’s College in Umtata in 2010. He then started civil engineering at FET college in Mapuzi, but was unable to complete the year after a bad football injury in February landed him in hospital and off school for 2 months. He decided to seek work instead, applying for a job as a translator with Jabulani at Zithulele Hospital.
It was here that he met Roger Galloway, who told him about the Jumpstart structured gap-year programme that was starting in 2014. It was during his Jumpstart Year that he applied to different schools, eventually hearing he’d been accepted at TSIBA.
“I was having a nice time at TSIBA,” he said, remembering getting to know people from all over the country while staying in residence with peers from Kwazulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape. “It was a small campus because we were at Knysna, not at Cape Town. Everyone knows each other.”
Business was something he enjoyed once he got going. With his Higher Certificate in hand, Sandi is currently applying to do his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration through UNISA. “Now I have a wife and I want to stay with her so I want to do distance learning while I’m working with Axium,” he smiled (perhaps because this wife is none other than Masakhane’s Mashiya!).
While on the team, Sandi said, “I will be like a link between the senior school team and the school kids. Sometimes they feel like they can’t go to talk with white people because they are afraid of speaking English. When they talk to me they will just tell what is the problem and I will take that back to the team.”
“I enjoy working with Axium. All the senior school team is friendly. It’s a nice team to work with and everyone has a positive atmosphere,” he said.