SA Performs Poorly in Mathematics and Science Education
The World Economic Forum Report 2016 ranked South Africa last in mathematics and science education quality. In order to improve mathematics and science education in schools, there is a need to develop teachers with the appropriate skills to transfer that knowledge effectively.
The School of Education at the Edgewood campus is facing a major challenge in that the science laboratories have over time, fallen into disrepair and some of the teaching apparatus is outdated. The physical space was also once sufficient to serve the small community who undertook teaching qualifications; however, the School now serves over 1500 students – a large number of whom study science. The size of the facilities is inadequate to accommodate the growing number of students. Due to decreases in funding, the School has not been able to maintain the high standards of their science laboratories which are now in need of a major revamp.
Refurbishment of UKZN Science Teaching Facilities
The quality of teaching influences learner achievement. This also applies to learning of science and technology. Student teachers need to focus on both the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching and learning of science. Inspiring lecturers, skilled tutors, properly equipped functional laboratories and workshops are all essential for the effective engagement of student teachers in the practical component of science.
The School of Education believes that student teachers should have access to highly structured laboratories designed to prepare them for their key role in transferring scientific knowledge to the school system. Science and technology education in particular requires specialist spaces and equipment. Functional laboratories enhance student teachers’ practical skills, conceptual understanding, general understanding of the nature of science and technology, and enhance critical and creative thinking.
Research has shown that an improvement in the quality of science teachers will improve school learners’ results. This will feed better-equipped matriculants into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines. In order to translate research into practice, UKZN developed a plan to upgrade and refurbish the School of Education’s science laboratories, technology workrooms, individual science workspaces, laboratory equipment and technology. Phase one commenced in 2016 with funds that were allocated by the University; however, the funding fell well short of what was required to complete the project. The School of Education is seeking donations to complete the refurbishment of its much-needed science laboratories.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal has contributed R1 million towards the science laboratory refurbishment. The UKZN Foundation, on behalf of the School of Education, is seeking strategic partners and donors who will enable the successful completion of the project by funding the building refurbishments, the purchase of modern teaching apparatus and support technology. The budget required to complete the refurbishment is R4 million.
Benefits to Donors
UKZN can offer various profile-raising opportunities to donors who substantially invest in this project which includes: co-branding, naming of facilities or parts thereof (based on the prevailing naming policy), media coverage and publicity in reports, website and publications of UKZN. This project is classified as Socio-Economic Development for the purposes of BBBEE scorecard evaluation and is Section 18a tax deductible.