Maths, science teaching gets boost

[Image] The video lectures will enable teachers to help pupils do better in the challenging subjects of maths and science.
(Image: stock.xchng)

[Image] Maya Makanjee of Vodacom says that the new programme will also ensure that teachers themselves are educated with quality material.
(Image: Vodacom Digital Classroom)

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Source: Vodacom Digital Classroom

Working with the University of Stellenbosch‘s (SU) Institute for Maths and Science Teaching (IMSTUS), Vodacom is offering live video lectures to teachers at its ICT resource centres.

A new video technology has been introduced as a learning platform through a joint venture of Vodacom and SU, to improve teacher training in mathematics and physical science.

The lecture programme is part of a nationwide teacher development initiative that is aimed at improving the quality of instruction in these subjects, which are the most challenging for pupils. The mobile services provider, through its mobile education programme, will help 320 teachers improve their skills through quality education via the video lectures from SU at any of the Vodacom information and communication technology (ICT) resource centres.

This will help improve the quality of education in previously disadvantaged schools.

Maya Makanjee, Vodacom’s chief officer for corporate affairs, says: “The programme ensures that teachers throughout the country have access to the highest quality teaching resources. It will also ensure that teachers receive quality education content, and will create an opportunity for interaction between teachers and lecturers.”

During the live broadcasts, teachers can interact directly with the presenters by submitting questions to http://ite.sun.ac.za (follow the instructions on the website), as well as by texting questions to 31498. The website has additional learning material as well as discussion forums where teachers can post and reply to questions.

To date, Vodacom and the Department of Basic Education have created nine ICT resource centres, one in every province, each serving up to 200 schools. The centres serve as the district teacher-training hub and are fitted with computer classrooms with 50 terminals and an internet café.

Helping teachers to up their game

IMSTUS is a non-profit organisation in the Department of Curriculum Studies which itself sits within the university’s Faculty of Education. IMSTUS works to challenge the notion that it is difficult to excel in maths and science by getting the message across that it is possible for all pupils to receive good teaching in these extremely important subjects.

The organisation was founded in 1977 by the former Cape Department of Education, with the task of presenting modular courses to teachers to enhance their subject knowledge in mathematics, physical sciences and biology – and hundreds did complete the courses. In 1990 it was announced that teachers were expected to fund their own tuition and this led to a dramatic drop in enrolment numbers.

Between 1990 and 2000, teachers could enhance their skills by opting to complete the Further Diploma in Education (FDE) in mathematical, biological and physical sciences, and computer studies. After 1994 provincial education departments gradually started funding teachers to enrol in selected streams of the FDE.

Since 2001, teachers have enrolled in the two-year Advanced Certificate in Education in biological sciences (now called life sciences), physical sciences, computer studies and mathematical literacy. Between 2001 and 2009, 332 teachers obtained qualifications in these streams.

IMSTUS has also developed accredited short courses for teachers, which address specific themes or challenges in specific subjects – the duration and costs depend on the equipment and materials needed. Teachers can earn a certificate of attendance or a certificate of competence – the latter option requires them to submit an assignment and be assessed.

Subjects available include human physiology, organic and inorganic chemistry, and genetics, offered at FET level, and matter and materials, functions and algebra, and financial mathematics at senior school level, among other choices.