Educational support NGO’s boxing way above their weight

CAPE TOWN — It’s an accepted educational truth that the earlier the quality intervention with children, the better their results. South Africa is a case study in institutionalised below-par basic education. So, when educational NGO’s transform entire communities, it’s worth celebrating. Here it’s the Datatec Education and Technology Foundation, set up nine years ago by former headmaster, Tumelo Mabitsela. The results at their Kutlwanong Centre in the Eastern Cape are stellar, as outlined below, contributing to seven and eight percent of the national tally for level seven science and maths distinctions, boxing way above the centre’s weight. Maths and science are “gateway subjects”, enabling those who master them to become engineers, information and communications technologists or healthcare professionals – to mention a few nationally needed skill sets. Another NGO, the 20-year-old Umthombo Youth Foundation, recruits top matriculants and returns them to work in their communities after mentoring them though a National Skills funded health science degree. A calculation of the lifetime post-graduate earnings of their 336 alumni shows that they will infuse more than R4bn into their districts. Lifetime taxes of these graduates will contribute R2bn to the national fiscus. That’s a big return on an a R186m university fees investment. Enough said. – Chris Bateman

Media release

The Datatec-funded Kutlwanong Centre for Maths, Science and Technology, with 22 Promaths centres throughout South Africa offering extra mathematics and physical sciences education to grade 10-12 learners in previously disadvantaged communities, were delighted to see the 2018 matric results of the learners enrolled in their programme.

The Datatec Promaths centre in the Eastern Cape produced some particularly impressive results, with Mjekula Someleze from Ulwazi High School receiving 100% in physical sciences, while three other learners (Athenkosi Moyikwa, Mguguma Mbasa and Khanyisa Dyonashe) who attended the Datatec-Mdantsane Promaths centre were among the top achievers in the province. Mbasa Mguguma secured 97% for mathematics and 99% for physical sciences.

Datatec Education and Technology Foundation was established to fund non-profit organisations that provide much-needed MST skills to both learners and teachers. Kutlwanong began in a single school in Dobsonville, Soweto in 2005, and today there are Promaths centres across seven provinces. “The 2018 matric results for pupils participating in the programme reflect how vital the interventions are from organisations like the Kutlwanong Centre to help pupils fully realise their potential,” says Wilna de Villiers, Marketing and Communications Manager for Datatec.

In 2018 a total of 512,735 pupils sat for the National Senior Certificate (NSC), yet only 45.6% of these learners wrote mathematics and 172,319 (33.6%) wrote physical sciences. “We find many pupils do not realise how important these subjects are to further their careers and also lack the skills to pass these subjects, and this is a direct reflection on the education system failing in this country,” says Kutlwanong Centre founder Tumelo Mabitsela. “Being a school principal myself, I knew that many teachers and pupils were unable to fully comprehend the gateway subjects, namely accounting, mathematics and physical science, and this was reflected in the poor final matric results, so in 2009 I decided to establish the Kutlwanong Centre to help address this problem.” The Datatec Foundation has been funding this initiative since 2011.

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Kutlwanong Centre follows the National Basic Education Strategy Framework which provides detailed guidance for the implementation of the curriculum and ensures continuity and progression in the teaching of mathematics and physical sciences. “We have created well planned lessons and study aids to prepare students to understand and learn all aspects of the subjects, so they are properly prepared for their examinations,” notes Mabitsela.

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In the class of 2018 matric exams, Kutlwanong assisted only 1860 learners out of the total number of 172,319 learners who wrote physical sciences nationally.  The Kutlwanong Centre contribution was 8% towards physical sciences level-seven (distinctions) with 28 learners scoring 100%. In Mathematics, Kutlwanong assisted only 1 871 out of 233,858  learners who wrote exam. Kutlwanong contributed 7% towards level-seven (distinctions) with 3 Kutlwanong learners scoring 100% in Mathematics. These three learners obtained 100 percent in both physical sciences and mathematics.

Kutlwanong Centre has helped 19 939 pupils over the past 12 years, and many past pupils that have gone on to successful careers in engineering and information and communications technology (ICT). “Skilled professionals boost our country’s ability to compete and exploit ICT opportunities. This is a game changer for South Africa’s social and economic prosperity,” says Mabitsela.