Maths-Science project to benefit Ndlambe learners

A new  Maths and science project spearheaded by the University of Western Cape (UWC) in conjunction with nine high Ndlambe schools aims to make a positive contribution to learners’ marks and future careers. 

The programme is focused on grade 10 to 12 learners.  

Learners – all registered in pure Maths and science – from nine schools in the Ndlambe precinct gathered at Port Alfred High on June 18 to launch the project. 

Present at the launch were Sarah Baartman education department officials, Ndlambe municipality, PAHS headmaster Nigel Adams, subject experts and UWC representatives who helped co-ordinate the project.  

Nkosazana Tengimfene who is a senior communications spokesperson in the office of UWC’s deputy vice-chancellor, was given the task of spearheading the fund-raising initiative for the Maths-science project. 

Tengimfene said last year the university approached local government Setas for funding assistance to boost STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) at high schools to make university degrees in these subjects more accessible to rural learners. 

“They agreed and said we should then go in there and make sure that the learners are strong in Maths and physics,” said Tengimfene. “We know that many learners tend to go for Maths literacy, which is a watered-down version of Maths.  So, these learners from nine schools here today [at PA High] and who have been chosen for the curriculum are doing pure Maths and science and will be following studies in fields such as B.Comm, science, medicine and engineering.” 

She said this initiative to strengthen Maths and science marks was embarked on as the set standard in these courses was high at university and emphasised it was not a recruitment drive by UWC. 

“It is about higher education … there are many universities to choose from; it’s just that it’s us saying there is a bigger world out there and we want you [learners] to access it.” 

However, Tengimfene did point out at UWC they had noticed that in 2024 there were only five learners from Ndlambe on their enrolment list. “We have been wondering why only five … and they all are registered in the arts and humanities. Of course, we are not downplaying arts and humanities but if the economic trajectory is geared towards Maths, science we must ensure the needs are met.” 

“So local government Seta have said, ‘so if you can give Ndlambe the sort of graduate that can return to the region after studies and grow the economy, we will fund you for that’. So, the LG Seta is funding us for three years,” said Tengimfene. She declined to state the amount except to say, “it is a lot of money”. 

“We are going to see once the programme has progressed if the maths and science results are improving. If they show they are moving upwards, then we are sure the LG Seta will intensify their support.” 

 Tengimfene praised the quality of teachers in Ndlambe pointing out that two subject specialists from PAHS had sat with UWC professors in maths and science to design the curriculum for the programme. 

“We know that there’s talent here as far as teachers and learners are concerned and that is what we are hoping to unearth.” 

Education circuit manager for Sarah Baartman district (????) Tanga thanked UWC and other stakeholders – including Ndlambe Municipality – for their collaboration to get the initiative off the ground. 

“We know maths and physical science can be a problem, but this is going to change from now on,” she said addressing the learners. I want to say to you that your parents and I were never exposed to these opportunities you are now having. These opportunities that have come to you … you need to grab it. Start this week working hard as maths and science students.” 

“The Ndlambe circuit [results] is no 1 in the district out of the 10 circuits in the region … make sure you won’t be dropping the ball to ensure the quality of maths and science is maintained.”   

The STEM classes are run over winter and spring periods with a career expo being planned in September to help learners get on track with course and subject choices for tertiary studies.   

  • This article was first published in Talk of the Town, July 4, 2024. The newspaper serving the communities of Ndlambe and the Sunshine Coast, with a weekly wrap of Makhanda news, is available at stores from early on Thursdays.