29 October 2008
State oil and gas company PetroSA has opened a R1.2-million maths and science academy in Mossel Bay, to help about 300 learners from five disadvantaged high schools in the Western Cape.
Speaking at the academy’s launch, PetroSA CEO Sipho Mkhize said the idea of an academy followed a study, which found that historically disadvantaged learners in the region were failing to qualify for the company’s bursaries due to poor grades in maths and science.
He said the study found that learners found it difficult to acquire basic and advanced knowledge in maths and science, and also lacked the ability to conceptualise and apply logical reasoning for the two subjects.
“The dearth of good grades in maths and science from the southern Cape resulted in many otherwise competent learners were failing to enrol for engineering and other technical disciplines at university,” Mkhize said in a company statement this week.
He said PetroSA realised that learners from these areas need special facilities and extra lessons in maths and science to enhance their level of understanding thereby improving their performance in these important subjects.
“Capacity development in this area requires an early awareness, in order to enrol at a tertiary institution for a degree in the engineering disciplines, learners require good maths and science grades,” Mkhize said.
Three classes per week
The academy will be hosted at three schools: Thembalethu High School, Groot Brak River Secondary and Indwe High School. The academy forms part of the company’s corporate social responsibility programme.
Tutors and facilitators have been hired to mentor the learners in maths and science, and classes will be held after school three times a week in specially converted lecture rooms.
The lecture rooms boast state-of-the-art equipment such as surround sound speakers, interactive writing boards and computers.
Mkhize said the company was currently sponsoring 45 undergraduate students in various programmes including petroleum geology, chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering at South African tertiary institutions.
The company also sponsors bursaries for five South African students registered for an undergraduate degree in Petroleum Engineering at a university in the United States.
Mkhize added that PetroSA had budgeted R6-million for bursaries in the engineering fields over the 2008/9 financial year, as part of efforts to create a pool of skills that are necessary for the company to fulfil its growth strategy.
“The academy will enhance learners’ abilities and understanding in these subjects, which will lead to more learners qualifying for PetroSA bursary scheme,” Mkhize said.