Learners from Mdantsane township in East London have overcome enormous odds to excel in maths and physical sciences thanks to the Kutlwanong Centre for Maths, Science and Technology`s Promaths after-school tuition programme.
In many respects, the matric’s of 2021 endured even greater challenges over the previous year`s cohort, given that they were the first to contend with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic for two consecutive years.
Yet in a remarkable outcome, Mdantsane matric learners enrolled in the Promaths programme achieved a 100% pass rates for mathematics and physical sciences – the two “gateway” subjects deemed most critical for South Africa`s future growth.
Even more significantly, 92% of the 60 Mdantsane pupils participating in the programme scored higher than 50% for mathematics and 90% of learners above 50% for physical sciences.
Overcoming incredible lockdown challenges whereby the Mdantsane learners lost 70% of contact sessions during their grade 11 year, random school closures and phased-in teaching.
To put this performance into context, the national general pass average for mathematics was 57.6% while the physical science average was 69% at the end of 2021.
Tumelo Mabitsela, CEO for Kutlwanong, explains that more than 30,000 learners have passed successfully through the Promaths programme since its inception 16 years ago.
The programme`s success is highly dependent on private sector partnerships with funders such as the Datatec Educational and Technology Foundation, who have supported the programme for 10 years.
Maya Makanjee, Chairperson of the Datatec Educational and Technology Foundation, says investing in organisations like Kutlwanong that are working directly at addressing the STEM needs in South Africa is paramount.
While the entire ’21 Mdantsane compliment put in exceptional performances, Ulwazi High School`s William Somta stood out for scoring a perfect 100% for mathematics and 99% for physical sciences.
Another Ulwazi High matric, Olwami Mazomba, also shone with 97% for mathematics, while Vulamazibuko High School`s Inathi Melento achieved 91% for maths and 90% for physical sciences.
The effectiveness of the Promaths programme, designed to speed up top-level results among grades 10-12 learners in previously disadvantaged areas across South Africa, and the impact it is having on the young people of Mdantsane is remarkable.
The programme content is aligned with the National Department of Education`s CAPS curriculum, therefor learners are able to practise in a highly relevant, appropriate manner.