In 2012, Master Maths joined with the University of the Free State, and specifically Hercules Dreyer and Peet Venter to embark on a project in the Free State which has already worked wonders.
The focus of the School Change Project (SCP) is to increase the mathematics marks of the learners in the participating schools, and to encourage more learners to take mathematics as a subject. Another goal of the project is to increase the number of Bachelor passes in the province. The SCP started off modestly. 18 schools were selected from the Motheo district. Schools in the area had to apply if they wanted to be included in the project. The schools that were selected were some of the poorest achieving schools in the district, and for this reason it was decided that intervention was necessary.
School Management Teams (SMTs) were put together to help initiate the project. These teams were put thorough extensive training and workshops, which were hosted by the University of the Free State. Twelve mentors were chosen to support the project. The mentors are made up of a team of grade 10 to 12 mathematics, physical science or accounting teachers, and respected retired head masters. Part of their duties are to provide support in the classrooms at least once a week.
So how did Master Maths get involved? We provided each of the schools with a laptop which had our programme installed on it. The grade 10 to 12 mathematics teachers could then use them to prepare for lessons, and to help them find ways to explain complex concepts to their learners. Many of the grade 10 teachers or young teachers who were still unsure of the FET curriculum, made use of these laptops to enhance their lessons.
Master Maths is also involved in the project to help solve another obstacle that schools in this area are facing: the lack of access and knowledge on how to use technology to enhance education. There are many other obstacles that this project is trying to overcome, like the poverty in the areas, a shortage of chairs and desks in the classroom and not enough teachers at each school.
This project definitely contributed to the fact that the Free State was announced as the province with the highest Grade 12 pass rate, for the first time in history.
There have been many other contributing factors to this achievement, including the fact that the Free State Department of Education intervened in many of the schools in the province. The learners in the SCP will have benefited with this as well. By the time the Grade 12 results for 2013 were released, we had 22 schools in the SCP. 85% of the Grade 12 learners in the SCP passed in 2013. This is a significant increase from the year before. Looking at the pass rates from the previous year, there was an average of 21.4% more passes in this region. That’s a great leap in only one year! Also, the Bachelor’s passes in these school increased by 35.5%.
This is a great start. And there is still a future for this project. The next goal is to get 53 schools signed up to this project, add more resources where it is necessary and then continue to strive for better results each year!
Hercules Dreyer for the University of the Free State, who worked closely with Master Maths on this project.
One of the training sessions for the School Change Project.
The team that took part in the initial training in January 2012. This training helped them to discuss how the School Change Project would actively help to improve mathematics passes in the Free State.