The DBE, through its Reintroduction of Mathematics Project (RoMP), and in collaboration with TEACH SA and the British Council, formally concluded a three week training programme in six Ekurhuleni South schools on 03 June 2016. Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty, delivered the keynote address at a report back meeting held at the district offices. In attendance were school principals, teachers, TEACH SA Ambassadors and managers, the British Council Country Director, Mr Colm McGivern, DBE Maths, Science and Technology (MST) Project Manager, Ms Elspeth Khembo and RoMP Project Manager, Mr David Silman.
Having concluded Memoranda of Agreements with both TEACH SA and the British Council, the DBE has placed ninety-seven academically qualified Maths and Science graduates in schools in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. The graduates, referred to as TEACH SA Ambassadors, are recruited and screened by TEACH SA from university campuses across the country.
Following an engagement between Deputy Minister Surty and the British Council, a plan was developed by the DBE’s MST Directorate and the British Council, to integrate the TEACH SA programme with a high-tech teacher training and support programme. This element of the overall RoMP was aimed at the Ambassadors, in order to provide them with on-going classroom support, because this group has had no professional teacher training, aside from a two week residential induction programme managed by TEACH SA.
The IRIS Connect platform records lessons which are uploaded to the IRIS Connect cloud where they can be accessed by the teacher and shared with colleagues and teacher support specialists for comment and critical friend support. In addition, the teacher uses the recordings to reflect on their own classroom practice. This has been a very effective activity that results in improvement in teacher’s classroom efficiency. The IRIS Connect platform is used by 40 000 teachers in the United Kingdom (UK) alone, as well as 15 countries in Europe and Asia.
In the short term, and for the purposes of the six month pilot project, UK based specialists will act as the critical friend. In the long term consideration would be given to the provision of access to the platform on a more widespread basis should the pilot prove to be cost effective and impactful. The schools selected to participate in the programme are high schools in the Thokoza and Daveyton area, including Lethulwazi, Landulwazi, Windmill Park, Eden Ridge, Sijabulile and Thoko-Thaba.
At the report back session Deputy Minister Surty said that, given the huge challenges South Africa faces in the area of Mathematics, it was fitting for this tripartite partnership to leverage the resources of the State, giving effect to the Government’s policy of increasing learner participation and improving the quality of Mathematics outcomes. “We are alive to the reality that learner performance in Mathematics and the levels of competency of Mathematics teachers in South Africa, particularly in the Senior Phase, is diabolical to say the least,” said Mr Surty. “Our partnership with TEACH SA and the British Council aligns seamlessly within our policy framework and we owe a debt of gratitude to the British Council and Teach SA, who have worked tirelessly to change the lives of our children throughout the country. We are laying a solid foundation in the lives of our children, through deeds, not words. If we do this right, posterity will be kinder to us,” concluded the Deputy Minister.
Mr Jerry Bhagaloo, District Director for Ekurhuleni South, expressed his appreciation for the efforts made by the alliance in improving the delivery of high quality learning and teaching in the gateway subjects of Mathematics and Science.