The launch of satellite broadcasting programs is going to make learning for young students undertaking mathematics substantially more interesting.
The programme was launched last week by the Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy and is one of many measures taken by department with the objective of enhancing upon the quality of teaching for grade 8 and 9 students.
The programme and service is going to be broadcast to individual high school specifically chosen by the department and will overlap with lesson to ensure that teachers can integrate the broadcast with their lessons. The broadcast will also be recorded for the benefit of students to revise what they have learnt in class.
15 schools were chosen for the pilot programme in February and from now on the broadcast will expand to over 385 schools who happen to be part of the Senior Secondary School Improvement Programme over the course of the year.
“We are aware of the fact that Gauteng’s education system has the task of producing graduates who are able to become the next generation of skilled workers, engineers, and managers the advanced industrial economy of our province requires if it is to continue to grow,” Creecy said.
The primary goal and objectives of the programme is to improve the overall quality of maths and science teaching available to students in the most disadvantaged schools and regions.
The use of technology in class is a global trend being employed to help bridge the gap of educational inequalities. The Gauteng education department is extremely enthusiastic with the new innovations which have been introduced and it brings the region in line with international trends.
Creecy stated that the launch of satellite broadcasting is not meant to replace teachers, rather it is just another teaching tool that can assist both students and teachers.
Boosting matric pass rate
The satellite broadcasting programme is an extension of the Secondary School Improvement Programme (SSIP) which has raised the matric pass rate by 12 percent over the last 4 years.
According to results from the pilot program, the satellite broadcasts is exhibiting exceptional results and is designed to rapidly improve learner performance in maths and science for Grades 8 and 9.
Sphesihle Sithole (14), a Grade 9 learner at Ibhongo Secondary School, was quoted as saying that a large number of students are excited by the new programme and interventions and they are confident that everyone will pass maths with flying colors. Not only are students more confident about passing maths. in addition they find maths substantially more interesting as a result of the introduction of the satellite broadcasting.
Aside from the satellite broadcasts, learners and teachers are making use of other social media tools like Facebook, Mxit and Twitter together with landline and mobile phones so that they can communicate back to the central broadcast studio to ask questions and make comments.
The satellite platform also provides on-the-job training for class teachers who also attend further lessons in the afternoons. Teachers in the schools involved so far have been enthusiastic in their response to the programme as have district officials who are overseeing its implementation.
Government has welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s request to serve on UN Secretary -General Ban Ki-Moon’s Education First Initiative which is geared towards advancing the achievement of quality, relevant and inclusive education for everyone across the world.
UN Secretary-General invited Zuma, who will one of ten inaugural Member State Champions for the Education First Initiative. The inaugural states are going to have the duty to give help and support to the UN Secretary-General to guarantee formidable visibility along with the success of the project.
The request to join the Education First Initiative is a clear indication to the reputation of South Africa as a country that is making an effort to undo the influence of centuries of colonialism and apartheid in education as well as other spheres according to Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj. The influence and impact of colonialism on education continues to be an extremely sensitive topic.
Numerous groups along with the Democratic Alliance have raised their objection to inclusion of South Africa given the recent failures of the Education Department whilst making claims that South Africa has not yet accomplished a great deal in education. This has also been backed up by universities stating that high students entering their institution are not prepared for post high school education.
Maharaj has defended his claims stating that these opinions are incorrect and malicious emphasizing that South Africa could count numerous successes in the last 18 years in reversing the consequence of a racist education system which had been created to suppress the majority. In many respects this statement is true but the we should not forget or discount the reality that after 18 years along with court orders, the education department still cannot deliver books to school children or take responsibility for this.
Among the list of accomplishments has been the splitting up of Basic and Higher Education in 2009 by the President to ensure that each could receive complete attention.
At the Basic Education level, government was forced to contend with the influence of poverty on learner overall performance along with aspects which include weak school management, teacher expertise and know-how, low levels of accountability in addition to limited resources all of which have impacted on the way schools performed.
As stated by Maharaj the government has systematically put into practice programs to deal with all of these flaws and improvement is being made. Most of all the government hopes to achieve the goal of universal access to education.
On top of that, more than eight million children are currently in no-fee schools not to mention the fact that government in addition has been successful in facilitating universal access to primary education. The percentage of girls enrolled in primary, secondary and tertiary education is without a doubt improving substantially. At the same time, the government’s school nutrition programme is currently feeding in excess of eight million children in more than 20 000 schools which has had a beneficial influence on overall performance of students.
Government is furthermore on course to fulfill its goal of having 100% coverage for Grade R by 2014. Grade R enrolment has grown from 300 000 to over 700 000 between 2003 and 2011. The government continues work tirelessly at eliminating mud schools with an injection of 8.2 billion rand been allocated to the programme. Over the next few months the government is expecting to open new schools in the Eastern Cape region replacing the old mud schools. The success rate of matric students has also improved from 67.8% in 2010 and 70.2% in 2011.
Maharaj also stated that government continuously work relentlessly to further improve the quality of teaching maths and science in addition to the teaching of literacy and numeracy. The education department also aims to improve the current university pass rate and providing graduates a greater chance of employment.
In order to improve literacy and numeracy in primary schools, the department of education has implemented Annual National Assessment (ANA) tests make it possible for to objectively appraise the health and well-being of the education system below Grade 12.
“The 2011 ANA results confirmed our belief that the levels of literacy and numeracy are very low, Grade 3 learner average scores are 28% and 35% for numeracy and literacy respectively. We want schools to use the results to produce school development plans so that we can systematically improve education outcomes. The target is to have 60% of Grade 3 learners performing at required literacy levels, at least 60% of Grade 9 learners performing at required mathematics levels, and 175 000 Grade 12 learners pass with a bachelor’s pass by 2014,” said Maharaj.
On the subject of school management, government has established objectives of producing in excess of 40 000 teachers by 2014. Additionally, when it comes to institutions providing Foundation Phase teacher education, the government hopes to increase the number from 13 to 21 within the upcoming four years. A few of these are going to be revitalized former colleges of education.
Regarding textbooks and learning materials, government has directed the Department of Basic Education to enhance the distribution logistics to ensure that books get to schools on time next year in order to avoid the issues that arose in Limpopo and other provinces this year. Even though the government is looking forward, no action has been taken for the text book blunder even after court decisions. One would have to question the true intent and responsibility of government. Many people have expressed the opinion that if this scenario were to happen in the private sector, those responsible would be seeking new employment. President Zuma is currently processing the Presidential Task Team report on the Limpopo saga and will make a statement as soon as he has completed the process.
“A lot of progress is being made in improving higher education access and outcomes. To reduce finance as a barrier to accessing post school training, allocations for loans and bursaries increased from R3.3 billion in 2010/11 to R5.5 billion in 2011/12, with R17 million focusing on learners with disability.”
Lets hope, for the future of the country, that these decisions will not be politically based given the fact that the future of the country depends the children and the education they receive.
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High school pupils are receiving assistance to enhance their mathematics and science grades from South African arms manufacturer, Denel, by way of a specialised training programme.
The programme began in 2008 and assists close to 80 students annually. Mike Ngidi, Denel’s human resources and transformation group executive, explained that Denel is adding to the enhancement in the quality of maths and science teaching by way of an outreach programmes and extra tuition provided to students in disadvantaged areas.
A team of 44 engineers employed in the aerospace and defence industry take time out of their weekend to assist and share their know-how about these vital subjects with pupils in grades 8 to 11 at Steve Tshwete Secondary School in Olievenhoutbosch.
As a result of their education programmes, Denel is creating new study and career opportunities to deserving students – particularly in the engineering professions.
Continuity of school syllabus
There are clearly remarkable improvements in science and maths results ever since the Denel Training Academy selected Steve Tshwete Secondary School as its project school.
The school’s principal, Takalani Ndou, pointed out the fact that they have recorded five maths and science distinctions in the two years since the project began. This is an accomplishment never attained before in the school’s short history.
The programme operates along with the school’s teachers to make sure that there exists a continuation with what the pupils are performing in the school syllabus.
Venashree McPherson, the people development manager at Denel Dynamics, explained how the company’s goal is to promote engineering as a career option for school leavers as a result of their tutoring programme together with the provision of bursaries to deserving students.
The pupils are given study guides, stationery and bags when they attent classes.
One of the students who completed the programme, Kgaugelo Mokholwane, was given a bursary from Denel Dynamics in 2011 to carry on with his studies at tertiary level, whilst another student won a national maths quiz run through the social network, MXit.
McPherson explained that the programme would undoubtedly carry on growing, with the anticipation of far better results in the long run.
Ngidi added: “As a result of our participation in education projects at high school level, we have high hopes to inspire a whole new generation of future engineers, technicians and artisans who will certainly make it possible for South Africa to help maintain its high-tech leadership position.”
Maths and science development strategy in Gauteng
This is not the only solution currently being undertaken to improve the standard of critical skills. The Gauteng Department of Education has layed out numerous goals and objectives to boost the quality of mathematics, science and technology (MST) education within the province.
These have been outlined in the MST Improvement Strategy Paper of 2009-2014, which states: “Quality in mathematics, science and technology education is an ever-increasing requirement for the development of skills needed in modern economies. As the center of the South African economy, Gauteng is required to make certain that school leavers moving into higher education and industry are sufficiently prepared in these subjects.”
Goals and objectives include: strengthening MST teaching to all of the Gauteng schools, which is focused on continually developing teachers’ instruction skills; increasing the provision of MST resources, which consists of the satisfactory distribution of MST textbooks along with other learning and teaching support materials to schools; offering programmes to support learners in MST, which comprises a variety of campaigns to enhance learner achievement by way of in-class and supplementary programmes; and additionally, boosting the management of MST teaching and learning, guaranteeing there is a positive and conducive environment for MST education in schools and districts.
Dinaledi Schools Project
Maths and science have been made a top priority subjects over a decade ago by the education department. The Dinaledi Schools Project was started in 2001 by the department to boost the volume of matriculants with university-entrance mathematics and science passes.
The strategy consists of selecting high schools for Dinaledi status to boost learner participation and performance in mathematics and science, and additionally provide them with the appropriate resources and support.
Dinaledi means “stars” in Setswana. The Department of Basic Education earmarked R70-million (US$9.1-million) for the Dinaledi schools programme in 2011/12; this is expected to reach R105.5-million ($13.7-million) in 2013/14.
Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has committed to increase the number of science centres in the country in an attempt to assist the youth “reach their full potential in the learning environment.”
Pandor opened and addressed the 6th Science Centre World Congress in Cape Town.
“We believe that science centres are among the most efficient methods accessible to assist our youth attain their full potential in an informal learning environment. There is no doubt that a network of science centres would most likely unleash the potential of millions of young African people, and promote science awareness on a continent that is swiftly adopting the digital age.
“We also value the purpose that science centres perform in teacher empowerment and in training mathematics, science and technology teachers relating to the ideal way to bring their subjects to life in the classroom. Science centres can in addition play a significant role in encouraging the youth to follow careers in science and technology, and to know which career path would be most suitable,” the minister said.
She stated the centres would be perfect for the development of “effective” outreach programmes, targeted at peri-urban and rural areas where they could offer “valuable services.”
At present, the country had 26 science centres in eight provinces and the plan was to increase the this figure.
She said that there were five key areas of public investment in sciences in South Africa which includes investment opportunities in space science and technology, biotechnology, building indigenous knowledge and technology connected with global warming.
She pointed out that SA was willing to share with other African governments and non-profit organisations “the experience that we have gained in putting together and implementing policies that promote science-centre development in our region.”
The well-attended conference is being held under the theme “Science Across Cultures” and is scheduled to run for the next four days at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the summit will have many exhibitions and is bound to be propelled by robust debate and discussions.
The two accepted awards for their ingenious, impartial research on the subject of social challenges through science.
The ISEF is the world’s most well known global high school science competition, which offers a platform for grade nine to 12 students from all over the world to display their independent research. Awards are available in the form of bursaries, scholarships and prize money.
Boer, from St Dominic’s Academy in Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, was given a unique nod in the sociology subcategory for her research concerning how to improve the overall productivity of factory workers through the use of music. She obtained a bursary worth R42 000 (US$6 063) to finance her tertiary education.
Giuricich from Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town received R7 000 ($1 010) in prize money for winning the special award within the behavioural sciences subcategory for a project that analyzed sugar dependence among adolescents. He additionally came second in the Intel Grand Awards, taking home an additional R10 500 ($1 516).
The competition is jointly funded by Intel and the Intel Foundation, along with further awards and support from corporate, academic, and government organisations.
“We champion the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for the reason that we recognize that math and science happen to be imperative for innovation,” said Shelly Esque, vice-president of Intel’s Corporate Affairs Group. “This global competition features youth attempting to remedy the world’s most pressing challenges by way of science.”
The two South African students defeated over 7-million of their peers who competed in local science fairs with the aspiration of reaching the ISEF. Only 1 500 youngsters coming from all over the world ended up being invited to the ISEF to share their ideas as well as present their cutting-edge research, in so doing standing a possibility to win awards and scholarships.
“This global competition features youth looking to solve the world’s most demanding challenges through science, and we are extremely proud of the South African learners who excelled in the international stage of the competition,” said Parthy Chetty, head of Intel SA.
Chetty credited persistence and gruelling hours of research on their projects as key to the students’ achievements.
ISEF selected their finalists from 443 affiliate fairs in 65 countries, regions, and territories, including, for the first time, France, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and China. The sheer numbers of finalists was whittled down by way of a challenging assessment process.
The research was assessed by hundreds of judges coming from a range of scientific disciplines, each individual with a PhD or the equivalent of six years of related professional experience in one of the scientific disciplines.
Along with their prizes, the Intel Foundation in addition awarded a R6 921 ($1 000) grant to each winner’s school and the Intel ISEF-affiliated fair they represent.
“We congratulate the top winners for having the drive and curiosity to undertake these significant scientific questions,” said Elizabeth Marincola, president of Society for Science and the Public.
“Their work, and the work of all of the finalists at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, illustrates what students are able to achieve when they are inspired to pursue inquiry-based research.”