The recently-released results from the 2011 Annual National Assessment (ANA) had many cringing.
|Numbers that small: Roger Mackay, a maths education specialist with the SDU, runs a revision session with learners.
|Tiring stuff: School learners like Mazule Zonke got a taste of university life on the MSEP holiday programme this week.
This study by the national Department of Basic Education on numeracy and literacy levels among six million foundation phase (grades 1-3) and intermediate phase (grades 4-6) school learners around the country showed, among other things, that a mere 12% of grade-6 learners could score 50% or more in mathematics. Grade 3 learners did marginally better, but even among them only 17% managed a score of more than 50% in their numeracy assessment, while 31% scored more than 50% in the literacy test.
In the light of those numbers, interventions like the Mathematics & Science Education Project (MSEP) and the 100-UP programme, both run by the Schools Development Unit (SDU) in UCT's School of Education, come as a counterweight.
MSEP, a collaboration between UCT and the Western Cape Education Department, sets out to improve the quality of classroom teaching and learning in key subjects such as mathematics and the sciences in the five secondary schools participating in the project. Assistance is also given in the area of school management, ICT-integration. And, alongside the work with teachers, there's a support programme for grade 12 learners too.
In turn, 100-UP, launched in 2011, focuses on learners. In this programme, a total of 100 grade-10 academically strong learners from all 20 secondary schools in the township of Khayelitsha will participate over the next three years in activities that will tool them with the academic and life skills that will better prepare them for university studies.
And over the next two weeks, learners from both projects will get a taste of university life while they take part in two residential holiday school programmes hosted by the SDU. The MSEP programme runs from 4 to 6 July, while 100-UP will be staged from 11 to 13 July.
During their stays, the learners will enjoy orientation sessions, live and dine in student accommodation, go through admission-application exercises, and get tips on academic writing, among many other things.
But it's not just learners who will get to spend time at UCT over the weeks. The SDU has also just completed the winter holiday block teaching on a number of the Advanced Certificates in Education (ACEs) programmes. More than 250 teachers, many of whom are primary school teachers, are registered at UCT for these two-year part-time programmes.
"It is these teacher professional development programmes that lie at the heart of the unit's work," says SDU director, Dr Jonathan Clark. "And it is here where we are confident that we will be able to make a positive impact on numeracy and literacy performance in schools throughout the province."
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