Years Of Pandemic Disruption No Problem As Mdantsane’s Promaths Matrics Hit The High Marks

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Participants in Buffalo City township’s Kutlwanong Centre for Maths, Science and Technology’s after-school tuition programme honoured at East London awards ceremony.

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In a remarkable display of dedication and resilience, learners benefiting from an established mathematics and physical sciences programme in Mdantsane township near East London overcame years of pandemic-induced disruption to pass matric with distinction at the end of 2023.

For all but one of their five high school years, the 90 matric learners participating in the Kutlwanong Centre for Maths, Science and Technology’s Promaths after-school tuition programme endured trimmed curriculums that limited the knowledge required for subject choices, a dire lack of exposure to standardised assessments and exams, and constant amendments to assessment requirements.

Despite all these challenges, notably occurring against the backdrop of myriad challenges that impact South Africa’s second-largest township, the Kutlwanong centre’s 2023 matric cohort excelled.

Topping the list was Ulwazi High School’s Angesisa Sithole, who achieved 98% for mathematics and 93% for physical sciences, giving her a 96% average for these two subjects. In her overall NSC finals, she recorded seven distinctions.

Hot on her heels in second place was Othandwayo Ngumbela (92% average) and Iviwe Sontlaba (91% average).

The programme’s top Grade 11 performer was Khuseleka Nanto, who earned a 92% aggregate for mathematics and science, while the leading learner in Grade 10 was Asanda Mhlom (89% aggregate).

These and other exceptional students from Grades 10 to 12 were celebrated at a special awards ceremony at the Southern Sun Hemingways Hotel in East London on Friday 21 June 2024.

Thousands of learners have passed through the Promaths programme since the Kutlwanong centre was founded 18 years ago. Aside from the quality and commitment of teachers, its success is attributable to private funders like the Datatec Educational and Technology Foundation which has supported the programme for the past 14 years.

Maya Makanjee, Chair of the Datatec Board and the Datatec Foundation, says investing in organisations like Kutlwanong is key to unlocking the mathematics and science potential in learners to take South Africa forward in terms of growth and economic development.

Mastering the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects is a must in the age in which we live. We cannot afford to be left behind as the world develops and embraces new technologies on an unprecedented scale, so for us to be able to support these learners who represent the future of our country is aligned to Datatec values.   

For the 2023 school year, intensive intervention programmes were put in place during the winter and spring holidays to assist all learners performing below an average of 50% in mathematics and physical sciences.

Additional measured included an “extended-hour programme” online on Fridays and face-to-face sessions on Saturdays and Sundays; referrals to websites/online platforms with curriculum and assessment material for various subjects; WhatsApp groups between teachers and between teachers and learners; videos with lesson recordings made available on the Promaths online platform and catch-up and remedial sessions through online classes.

There was also implementation of midyear and preparatory examinations to expose and prepare learners for the provincial preliminary exams in September and the end-of-year National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.

As a mark of the impact made in 2023, in the space of only two years the general baseline pass rate for mathematics among the matric cohort grew from 62% in 2021 (Grade 10) to 100% in 2023. The pass rate increase for physical science moved from 63% in 2021 to 100% in the National Senior Certificate final exam.

Yet this was only a small part of the programme’s success.

In their matric finals, almost a third of Mdantsane’s Promaths learners (29%) achieved 80% and above for maths, while the majority (71%) scored 60% and above. Again, the results for physical science were similar. Here, 24% of the 90 learners achieved 80% and above, while the majority (72%) recorded 60% and above.

90% of Promaths matrics earned Bachelor’s passes, while the remainder were able to study at tertiary diploma level.

"Despite the difficulties created by the pandemic, the evidence points to the resilience in the Promaths programme in the area that matters most; namely, learning outcomes over the years,” says Tumelo Mabitsela, CEO for Kutlwanong.

“More Promaths learners are achieving higher-level Grade 12 outcomes which are considered sufficient by universities for entry into specific university programmes.”

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