Designed to speed up top-level results among Grades 10-12 learners in previously disadvantaged areas across the country, the Promaths programme of Kutlwanong Centre for Maths, Science and Technology (“Kutlwanong”) has once again contributed to excellent results in the Mdantsane matric cohort.
The 90-strong group achieved a 100% pass rate across all subjects, with top achievers being awarded distinctions in maths and physical science. This is striking compared to the Buffalo City District provincial average of 77,9% for all subjects, and an even lower 76,4 % for the Eastern Cape province. Of the Promaths group, 79% (71 learners) achieved a bachelor pass, compared to 37,4% for the Buffalo City District and 32,3% for the Eastern Cape Province.
Luthando Sebe, a matriculant from Buchule Technical High School, achieved 94% in maths and 97% in physical science; Imitha Goduka from Clarendon High School for Girls scooped 89% for maths and 88% for physical science; Sibahle Mavuso from Khulani Commercial High School scored 89% for maths and 84% for physical science; Lukhaya Ntsabo from Ngwenyathi High School scored 83% for maths and 92% for physical science; and Lihlomile Yanxa from Khulani High School achieved 86% for maths and 91% for physical science.
Of the Mdantsane Promaths cohort, five learners walked away with seven distinctions each, 14 with six, 24 with five, 18 with four, 15 with three, and 14 with two. In comparison to the Buffalo City District and Eastern Cape province, 5.6% achieved a level 7 pass (80-100%) for maths compared to 2,2% for Buffalo City District and 0.9% for the Eastern Cape province. For physical science, 23% of Kutlwanong’s Promaths achieved a level 7 pass, compared to 5,3% for Buffalo City District and 3% for the Eastern Cape province.
“We’ve been working in townships across the country, including Mdantsane, for the past 14 years,” says Tumelo Mabitsela, CEO for Kutlwanong. “A total of 22 184 township and rural learners have benefited from the extra tuition in maths and science we provide throughout the school year, and more than 6 490 distinctions in these two vital subjects have been achieved since we began.”
Mabitsela credits this success to private sector partnerships with funders like the Datatec Educational and Technology Foundation, which has been funding the Mdantsane Promaths group for 9 years. The Foundation’s aim is to improve education, specifically in ‘STEM’ (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, in underprivileged communities in South Africa. “Aside from the vital skills gap that maths and science education fills, many people overlook the real-world, day-to-day needs these vital subjects play in our ordinary living, such as helping us to problem solve, or reason logically, or challenge our thinking,” Mabitsela says.
With the demand for STEM-based career professionals growing day by day, South Africa’s deepening maths-education crisis desperately requires creative interventions. Using a multi-pronged approach, Kutlwanong’s Promaths learner programme provides additional maths and science tuition to Grade 10, 11 and 12 students. Promaths also focuses on upskilling teachers by providing teaching aids to help educators deliver lessons in a more engaging, memorable way. The content of the programmes is aligned with the National Department of Education’s curriculum, so learners are able to practice in a highly relevant, appropriate manner. And the Promaths model focuses on both mastering theory and repeated content practice, with routine tests undertaken to ensure that students have grasped a concept before moving on to the next one.
Mabitsela says, “Ultimately, our dream as an organisation is to see black underprivileged learners moving up through the ranks and going on to pursue careers in engineering, finance, science, maths and technology. Nothing makes me happier than when I hear about professionals in these fields who once benefited from being on one of our extra-tuition programmes.”
“We believe that it’s vital to invest in organisations like Kutlwanong that are working directly at addressing the STEM needs in South Africa,” says Maya Makanjee, Chairman of the Datatec Educational and Technology Foundation. “Maths education faces many challenges in our country, but we believe that with long-term thinking, consistency and partnerships, we can make a meaningful difference.”