Zenex Gives Teachers a Boost in Maths and English Teaching Skills

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BYLINE: sarah-jane bosch

Almost 90 teachers have benefited from the Zenex Foundation's close-to-R7 million flagship accredited teacher training programme, which equips teachers with accredited qualifications to teach maths and English in FET colleges at Grades 10 to 12 and the foundation phase (Grades 1 to 3).

Zenex Foundation recently celebrated the graduation of 59 teachers who obtained their B Ed Mathematics degrees from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. These graduates join 27 who graduated in March from Rhodes University.

The teachers, all currently employed at government schools, completed the B Ed over four years while continuing to work at schools all over the country. They were drawn from Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, and were selected provided they met the basic requirements for the B Ed degree. High school teachers must be teaching at the FET level, and are drawn from schools that offer maths and science. Primary school teachers must have been teaching Grades 1 to 3.

Some of the participants in the programme had a basic teaching diploma and, without the necessary specialisation, were teaching maths up to matric level. Despite their lack of prior specialisation in the subject, most have managed to obtain their B Ed Mathematics, says Gail Campbell, chief executive of the Zenex Foundation, an independent donor organisation that focuses on mathematics, science and language education.

Zenex has distinguished itself from other grantmaking bodies by committing its entire budget strictly to mathematics, science and language education in South Africa. Since 1995, the foundation has disbursed R272 million in the South African education sector. The impact of this expenditure has been evaluated through extensive research and enquiry, and important lessons have been learnt about how donors can support the improvement of learner performance at school level.

"The first class graduating from Rhodes University in March achieved an 88% pass rate, with one distinction," says Campbell.

"Two students have been awarded positions in the Rhodes University B Ed Hons course, based on the quality of the work completed through the programme. The second class, who graduated from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, achieved a 89% pass rate, with four distinctions."

Mathematics and science education in South Africa has been highlighted as a cause for serious concern. A report issued in 2007 by the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) stated that only 17% of teachers teaching maths and science in secondary schools were qualified to do so, and learner results in these subjects have been falling far short of the Department of Education targets of doubling matric pass rates by 2008. …