Fifteen Northern Cape Teachers Graduate at UKZN
Fifteen Northern Cape teachers received Bachelor of Science degrees at the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science’s Graduation ceremony on the Westville campus.
The teachers, whose studies were funded by BHP Billiton, all majored in physics and applied mathematics.
The ‘BSc for Northern Cape Educators’ initiative, launched by UKZN and the Northern Cape Department of Education, has now reached a successful conclusion after a period of five years.
In 2009, about 25 teachers were selected and enrolled for a BSc Degree through UKZN, with the graduation target date being set for 2014. One new teacher was selected in 2011, having already accumulated credits from the University of Pretoria for first year modules.
Of those who started, 15 made it through to graduation.
UKZN’s Northern Cape Maths and Science Educator Development Programme is a pilot project designed to develop deeper competence and confidence in content knowledge for delivery of the new Further Education and Training (FET) mathematics and physical science curriculum at Grade 12 level. This initiative came about because of the enormous neglect accrued through apartheid in South African schools, as evidenced in teacher audits and the school register of needs surveys. The results from the audits and surveys showed that many areas of the education system needed to be improved in a relatively short period of time, in order to improve the quality of education for all in South Africa.
BHP Billiton and the Northern Cape Department of Education partnered to assist Government in improving educator mathematics and science teaching skills. The initiative is part of BHP Billiton’s education drive designed to create self-sustaining communities.
The programme is a foundational intervention in the development of highly qualified mathematics and science BSc teacher graduates and will go a long way towards improving matric mathematics and science pass rates, especially among Black learners.
Professor Bala Pillay, UKZN’s Dean of Teaching and Learning within the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, said the impact of the Northern Cape Teachers project on educators and learners had been positive.
‘This is borne out by the feedback from the educators as contained in the 2013 CASME Report,’ he said. ‘The Principals’ Report, albeit from only six schools, is also positive. The majority of the students completed their BSc degrees.’
A study of the direct impact of the Northern Cape Teachers’ Project on learner performance is currently being undertaken. ‘A clearer picture of the impact of this project may be obtained after its conclusion,’ said Pillay.
Ms Nabréne Sian Visser, one of the educators who graduated successfully, found the experience to be rewarding. ‘First of all, I feel that it was a privilege to be part of this pilot group and I therefore want to thank all the stakeholders for their contribution,’ said Visser. ‘Studying part time is not easy, especially when you work and have to sacrifice your holidays. We never stopped working but in the end it was all worthwhile. All the late nights and stressful days paid off in the end.’
Visser is currently teaching at Alexander Bay High School and plans to register for a BSc Honours degree in either physics or mathematics.