Campus Life

Maths and Science community project turns Limpopo schools around



The quality of South Africa’s maths and science education places it last out of 148 countries, according to a recent World Economic Forum report. In an attempt to address this problem and improve learner pass rates, the Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT) OR Tambo Chair in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (MSTE) has once again placed six fourth year mathematics and science student mentors at rural schools in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape for the second semester of 2014.


This follows the ongoing success of the MSTE community project, launched by the Faculty of Humanities in 2009. Since 2009 one of the partner schools in Limpopo, the Tshikhuthula Secondary School, has moved from a mere 31% matric pass-rate to 61% in 2010, and to 87% in 2011 and 2012. It is currently among the top performing schools in the Hlanganani North Circuit of the District

According to the Chair of MSTE, Prof Willy Mwakapenda, one learner from Tshikhuthula obtained distinctions in five subjects in 2011 and is now studying medicine. “The school achieved a 100% pass rate in mathematics and a 98% pass-rate in physical science in 2012, and has now set a 100% target pass-rate in all subjects in 2014. These results indicate a spark in the work of engaging learners in mathematics and science on which the Faculty of Humanities is building by placing student mentors in the partner schools.”


“The placement of these top MSTE students forms part of fulfilling their professional teaching practice portfolios. In addition, they will have an opportunity to engage with learners during and after school hours to support learning and stimulate their interest in mathematics, science and careers linked to these fields,” said Prof Mwakapenda.

He added that the project is one of the key components of MSTE’s community engagement for the year. The student mentors will be hosted by the school communities for a period of six months. “Apart from the experience these students will have gained in community engagement, we expect that learners will be stimulated to adopt a culture of learning and that the mathematics and science results for more matric learners in these schools will improve,” added Prof Mwakapenda.


Looking at things from different angles and finding solutions to real world problems, has resulted in a collaboration agreement with TUT’s Faculty of the Arts from 2013.  This partnership involves engagement with four secondary schools around Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape.

“The success of this partnership is already visible,” said Prof Mwakapenda. “For the first time in the history of one of the schools, Mpingana Secondary school moved from an average matric pass rate of only 4% to 23%.”


Article source:TUTWebsite