26 March 2007
South Africa has reaffirmed its commitment to promote maths, science and technology in high schools, with the government announcing a plan to deploy both local and foreign teachers qualified in those fields to the country’s 6 000 schools.
Speaking at the 8th Aggrey Klaaste Maths, Science and Technology Educator of the Year Awards in Midrand last Thursday, Education Minister Naledi Pandor added that her department aims to retain competent teachers and encourage new teachers into public education through a programme of incentives, including bursaries and rewards.
“Maths, science and technology are now more important than they have been in our recorded history,” Pandor said, adding that their importance was also highlighted in the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgi-SA).
Asgi-SA aims to increase economic growth to 6% per annum between 2010 and 2014, while also halving unemployment and poverty by 2014.
In order to achieve this, critical skills and sectors have been identified. These include the skills of engineers and the information communication technology (ICT) sector, which both require a strong knowledge base of maths and science.
The apartheid government neglected these very skills in its education system for black South Africans.
“If we don’t have these teachers in our country, we must get teachers from outside,” Pandor said, adding, “We can’t have any high school without these teachers.”
Pandor noted, however, that the present government had come a long way in repairing the damage that apartheid had caused to the education system.
In order to fast-track maths and science skills, the department embarked on the Dinaledi schools initiative in 2001, which aims to increase access to maths, science and technology, and to promote and improve results for these subjects in under-privileged communities.
There are currently 400 high schools across the country, which offer maths and science at higher-grade level and have qualified teachers.