DBE and University of Johannesburg inaugurate High School Science Intervention Project

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) through the initiative of the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC), collaborated with the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to inaugurate the High School Science Chemistry Grade 10–12 Support Project.

Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, led the joint initiative between the Department and UJ to strengthen Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) subjects in schools. The event took place at the UJ campus in the Gauteng Province on 14 February 2024.

The Minister was joined by three of the five MECs whose schools have been identified to participate in the first phase of the project. The Minister was supported by senior officials of the five participating provinces and social partners, the South African Council of Educators (SACE), the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), SGBs and Teacher Unions, science subject specialists, teachers and Representative Council of Learners (LRCs). The collaboration is a milestone in the history of education and delegates pledged their support for the project. They emphasised the fact that the undertaking will touch and change the lives of millions of people in the country, urging the QLTC to encourage increased community participation in education. The partnership’s objective is to provide opportunities to learners from historically disadvantaged schools offering practical experience in Chemistry and Physical Science in higher education, whilst transforming the delivery of STEM education.

During her address, Minister Motshekga highlighted the significance of the partnership, as well as the aim of the current Integrated MST Education Strategy saying, “The DBE welcomes this initiative with sincere gratitude. Whilst we want to see the performance in all gateway subjects improve, we are pleased to see an institution of higher education taking steps to meaningfully contribute resources and services to improve learning and teaching in our schools. Science and Mathematics are pivotal for industrialisation, innovation and product development. Enhancing student achievement in these subjects empowers them to tackle technical challenges and innovate solutions effectively.”

The participants, together with the political principals, were afforded an opportunity to witness, first-hand, the experiments learners will be exposed to. These were conducted by young students who are either completing their PhD or Masters degrees in Science.

Ms Simoné Geyer, DDG for Delivery and Support, said: “This programme will help improve the performance of learners in schools, and will ultimately enable seamless integration into university post-matric. The more we create opportunities, the more we enable our learners to excel within the digital space”.

Prof Letlhokwa Mpedi, UJ Vice-Chancellor, emphasised the critical role of basic education in nurturing young minds and preparing them for academic success: “The DBE plays a crucial role in shaping the future and professional careers of our students”. Prof Annah Moteetee, the Dean of the Science Faculty, echoed these sentiments, emphasising the project's potential to enhance student exposure, interest, and scientific knowledge.

Minister Motshekga acknowledged the fruitful partnership and collective effort in supporting learners, as well as recognising the need for them to be equipped with quality science education. In response to the Minister’s appeal for more stakeholder involvement in the sector, NPOs who are working and supporting subject advisors, teachers and learners in schools all committed to join hands with UJ to assist in realising the objectives of the project.

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