“South Africa’s public education sector is performing extremely poorly in international benchmarks for mathematics and science (TIMSS 2019). Our main goal is to develop a sustainable model that addresses the challenges faced by many students in mathematics and science, mostly in rural areas, creates interest for science in young people through astronomy and digitises education.
We run an annual 3-week program aimed at grade 11 learners, running during December and January holiday. During the program we introduce the learners to grade 12 maths and science and inspire them with further science study opportunities so when they start their matric year, the last year of school leading to the South African National Certificate, they are already aware of the contents. The program is run by students who attended the program in previous year, who return to teach the following year.
Many students do not have anyone to help them at home with school work due to either the parents not being educated or not available (Many parents go to the city to work, coming home only during holidays). In addition to the 3-week program, we want to start a mentorship programme connecting alumni of the program to the learners through digital means throughout the 2022 school year.
To complement the above activities and ensure that the school is fully engaged, we will run a parents, teachers and principals workshop to involve all stakeholders in the general performance challenges.
Astronomy is a key subject in the program, being both inspirational and aspirational thanks to the many opportunities offered by South Africa’s leadership in SKA and optical/IR astronomy with SALT. We also plan to start a science club centred around astronomy, which will connect to the Science Spaza science club network across the country.
With the COVID 19 pandemic, We are planning to set up a digital learning center, focusing on digitizing education and complementing the end-of-year programme.”