A new video technology has been introduced as a learning platform by a joint venture of Vodacom and the University of Stellenbosch, 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 cellphone company, through its Mobile Education Programme, will help 320 teachers receive quality teacher education via the video lectures from the University of Stellenbosch at any of the Vodacom information and communication technology (ICT) resource centres.
Maya Makanjee, Vodacom’s chief officer: corporate affairs, says: “The key objective for the programme is to use mobile technology to help the Department of Basic Education meet its goal of ensuring that a significant number of learners have exposure to ICTs.
“The programme ensures that teachers throughout the country have access to the highest quality teaching resources. The programme will also ensure that teachers receive quality education content and create an opportunity for interaction between teachers and lecturers.”
This will help improve the quality of education in previously disadvantaged schools.
INTERACTING WITH PRESENTERS
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 smsing questions to 31498. The website has additional learning material as well as discussion forums where teachers can post and reply to questions.
The Institute for Maths and Science Teaching (IMSTUS) is a not-for-profit organisation in the department of curriculum studies which itself is within the university’s Faculty of Education. IMSTUS strives to personify Stellenbosch University’s Hope Project by replacing despair about maths and science teaching and learning in schools with the realisation that it is possible for all pupils to receive good teaching in these extremely important subjects.
IMSTUS was founded in 1977 by the old Cape department of education. It was contracted to present modular courses to teachers to enhance their subject knowledge in mathematics, physical sciences and biology. Hundreds of teachers enrolled for these modular courses, also after completing their degrees and initial teaching diplomas.
The funding arrangement changed in 1990 when the new education model was implemented nationally, under which teachers were expected to fund their own tuition. This led to a dramatic drop in the enrolment numbers of teachers in these courses.
SHORT COURSES FOR TEACHERS
Between 1990 and 2000, teachers could enrol for the Further Diploma in Education (FDE) in mathematical, biological and physical sciences, as well as in computer studies. The post-democracy provincial education departments gradually started funding teachers to enrol in strategically selected streams of the FDE.
Since 2001, teachers have enrolled in the two-year Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) 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 developed accredited short courses for teachers to address specific themes or challenges in specific subjects. Teachers can earn a certificate of attendance or a certificate of competence, for which they must submit an assignment and be assessed. Credits are calculated at 10 hours notional time – combinations of attendance, preparation, assessment – equalling one credit.
To date, Vodacom together with 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.