DISADVANTAGED LEARNERS IN WESTERN CAPE BENEFIT FROM MOBILE RESOURCE CENTRE

DISADVANTAGED LEARNERS IN WESTERN CAPE BENEFIT FROM MOBILE RESOURCE CENTRE
South African Muslim Charitable Trust

THOUSANDS OF DISADVANTAGED LEARNERS IN THE WESTERN CAPE TO BENEFIT FROM SOUTH AFRICAN MUSLIM CHARITABLE TRUST-SPONSORED SCIENCE2GO MOBILE RESOURCE CENTRE

  • Thousands of learners and their teachers at 14 project high schools in four districts of the Western Cape will benefit from a new Science2Go initiative, sponsored by the South African Muslim Charitable Trust
  • Science2Go run by Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education Trust (CASME), in collaboration with founding project partner, Mahle Behr South Africa
  • SAMCT has committed to supporting the Science2Go project, with a grant of R950 000 this year. Additionally, SAMCT has sponsored an especially equipped vehicle and science education resources to the value of R800 000.

In a bid to boost Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL)education through practical and hands-on science learning experiences, thousands of historically disadvantaged Western Cape learners, and their teachers at 14 schools, are set to benefit from an exciting new Science2Go Mobile Resource Centre, funded by the South African Muslim Charitable Trust (SAMCT). 

The Science2Go initiative is operated by the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education Trust (CASME), in collaboration with founding project partner Mahle Behr South Africa.

SAMCT Trustee, Mr Wasiem Abbas, indicated that the charitable organisation had undertaken to support the project, with initial funding last year of an especially-adapted and equipped vehicle, which is utilised as a mobile science laboratory and resource centre, and support costs for training, consumables and the like this year.

“Science2Go is an initiative to bridge the gaps in science teaching and learning in public schools. The Science2Go Mobile Resource Centre is a cost-effective solution to address the lack of access to scientific educational resourcein rural and peri-urban public schools that either lack the funds to provide adequate laboratory equipment or do not have any laboratories at all. It not only brings much-needed resources, but also experienced facilitators to build teachers’ capacity and skills,” said Mr Henre Benson, Director of CASME.

According to CASME, the National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) Standard Report indicates that only around 18% of ordinary public schools across the country have science laboratories, highlighting the need for strategic interventions.

“Science2Go is tackling this situation head-on by providing a community of schools with access to both the resources and expertise to deliver meaningful science teaching experiences. It will increase practical, hands-on learning and aims to enhance learners’ interest, participation and enrolment in science at the senior secondary and tertiary level,” Mr Benson said.

Mr Abbas stressed that many South African schools were under-resourced with regard to Science and Maths.  

“Part of the problem lies in the low numbers of Science and Maths teachers here, a problem exacerbated by many schools being further hindered by a shortage of materials and facilities, such as laboratories and equipment. This severely negatively impacts effective teaching,” he said.  

The SAMCT Science2Go Mobile Resource Centre will visit each of the targeted schools three times per term. Prior to the school visits, teachers will participate in workshops aimed at improving their skills and knowledge. Furthermore, the Science2Go team will provide learners with special sessions pertaining to career, study, and subject choice information relating to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Participating schools also take part in an annual Science Olympiad where learners‘ knowledge and skills of practical science is evaluated.

“Every child has the right to a fit and proper education, regardless of their circumstances. Education plays a vital, foundational role in empowering and uplifting communities. However, access to the necessary resources, training and practical learning opportunities is limited,” said Mr Abbas.

Recent reports have highlighted declining learner enrolment in mathematics and science in Western Cape Schools. “The shortage of qualified professionals in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, is currently one of the major inhibitors of economic growth and job creation in South Africa,” said Ms Suanne Rampou, Senior Curriculum Planner for Natural Sciences in the Western Cape Education Department. “This shortage is exacerbated by the declining enrolment of learners in mathematics and science in schools in the Western Cape. Ultimately this makes it challenging to fill essential roles in all the engineering fields, along with fast-developing sectors such as mechatronics and robotics. Science2Go is a tangible way of addressing the dire shortage.”

“Given the prevailing situation, we of the SAMCT are pleased to be in a position to partner with innovative non-profit organisations and far-reaching projects, such as Science2Go, which we regard as being essential in assisting to equip our youth with the necessary skills and practical training that will help create the scientists and engineers of tomorrow,” Mr Abbas maintained.

The SAMCT was created in 2008, the result of a partnership between Old Mutual Unit Trusts and Al Baraka Bank, for the creation, marketing and distribution of a suite of Shariah Funds. This has ensured that the SAMCT is the beneficiary of this Shariah suite of funds, enabling it to provide funding, services and other resources for the improvement of the lives of the vulnerable, deprived and disadvantaged. It has been singularly successful in delivering sizeable assistance solutions throughout South Africa – irrespective of race or religion – and continues to work to support needy organisations in the fields of health, social development, poverty alleviation and education.  

Schools invited to participate in the SAMCT Science2Go project were selected in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department and are drawn from 5 districts. The project expects learner performance and enrolment in sciences to improve by 20% in the project schools, based on historical achievement in other provinces.

CASME was established in 1985 as an education development organisation, focusing on school maths and science interventions in South Africa. It is currently responsible for education projects across the country involving approximately 1 000 schools and around 2 800 teachers.

CASME’s Science2Go Mobile Resource Centres – in partnership with automotive component manufacturer, Mahle Behr – have been operational since 2015, bringing the resource centre concept to schools lacking adequate Science facilities or fully trained teachers. To date, the project has reached 493 schools, 1 902 teachers and more than 80 000 learners.

“We are proud to welcome SAMCT as the sponsor of our Science2Go Mobile Resource Centre in the Western Cape. It’s only through partnerships, such as this, that South Africa can hope to enhance the skills of learners in the STEM space. We are grateful to SAMCT for its generosity towards this exciting endeavour,” said Mr Alex Holmes, Managing Director of Mahle Behr South Africa.