Kutlwanong was established in 2005 to accelerate the quality and quantity of STEM performance in disadvantaged community areas in South Africa. They run learner, teacher development, career path and alumni programmes to provide a pipeline of support for the township and rural students to achieve top performance in Maths and Science, access tertiary education and enter professional careers. Over the past 15 years, the programme has advanced the Maths and Science performance of over 25,000 township and rural students, enabling over 7,000 students to achieve distinctions in Mathematics and Physical Science.
Promaths is a learner programme, designed to encourage students to perform well in these and other subjects to obtain a Bachelors Pass. According to Tumelo Mabitselo, CEO for the Kutlwanong Centre for Maths, Science & Technology, “Our programme also runs career roadshows where it exposes learners to scarce skills STEM careers, assists them with tertiary and bursary applications, enabling them to make informed decisions about their choice of career and place of study”.
The Kutlwanong model consists of a learner support programme providing Maths and Science tuition; a teacher development programme providing curriculum support; Maths and Science content and training; a career path programme exposing learners to scarce skills careers and supporting them to access their careers and an alumni programme that supports tertiary students.
“Our programme is funded by corporate support and most often we run programmes within the vicinity of a corporate footprint. As such, our team works with the Department of Education in those provinces and districts to identify schools and learners to participate,” said Mabitselo. Furthermore, the programme is not open to application because schools are selected against a set internal criterion. Kutlwanong works with the Department of Education to identify learners and schools who will participate in the programme. They undergo a rigorous process of teacher selection, working with school principals and SGB’s to initiate our programme and harness parent, teacher, school and district support.
Mabitselo highlighted that Teacher Development is an important part of the programme because they need to ensure that the teachers have the necessary knowledge and tools to transition content from the curriculum to the classroom. The curriculum team further works with teachers to track performance, identifying areas of poor learner performance, and how teachers and training can address this. Teacher development also enables Kutlwanong educators to connect and communicate.
“We assessed the value chain of students that enter Kutlwanong at a Grade 10 level and the number of students who accessed STEM careers at tertiary institutions. Our aim is not only to boost performance in Maths and Science from Grade 10 onwards but to also ensure that our mandate of facilitating a pool of black professionals to enter these STEM careers is fully realised,” said Mabitselo.”Mathematics and Physical Science are gateway subjects to professional careers. Poor marks in these subjects eliminates a range of study and career options for students,” adds Mabitselo.