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New Science2Go resource centre comes to the rescue of disadvantaged learners in Western Cape

Sithembile Hsindane (18) and Esethu Mtsuma (16) at the launch of Mahle Science2Go in Durban. Picture:Jacques Naude

Sithembile Hsindane (18) and Esethu Mtsuma (16) at the launch of Mahle Science2Go in Durban. Picture:Jacques Naude

Published Aug 5, 2022

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Thousands of historically disadvantaged learners and their teachers in the Western Cape will soon benefit from a new mobile resource centre, Science2Go, funded by the South African Muslim Charitable Trust (SAMCT).

SAMCT has committed to supporting the Science2Go project, with a grant of R950 000 this year. Additionally, SAMCT has sponsored an especially equipped vehicle and science education resources to the value of R800 000.

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Thousands of learners and their teachers at 14 project high schools in four districts of the province will have access to this mobile resource centre.

The project expects learner performance and enrolment in science to improve by 20% in the project schools, based on the historical achievement in other provinces.

Science2Go is operated by the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education Trust (CASME) in collaboration with founding project partner Mahle Behr South Africa.

SAMCT Trustee Wasiem Abbas said the organisation supported the project with the initial funding of an especially-adapted and equipped vehicle, which is used as a mobile science laboratory and resource centre.

Abbas said he was concerned that many South African schools were under-resourced with regard to science and maths.

“Part of the problem lies in the low numbers of Science and Maths teachers here, a problem exacerbated by many schools being further hindered by a shortage of materials and facilities, such as laboratories and equipment. This severely negatively impacts effective teaching.

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“Every child has the right to a fit and proper education, regardless of their circumstances. Education plays a vital, foundational role in empowering and uplifting communities. However, access to the necessary resources, training and practical learning opportunities is limited," Abbas said.

The trustee said SAMCT was pleased to partner with innovative, non-profit organisations and far-reaching projects such as Science2Go, which were essential for equipping the youth with the skills and practical training to create scientists and engineers of tomorrow.

Director of CASME, Henre Benson said that Science2Go was an initiative to bridge the gaps in science teaching and learning in public schools.

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"The Science2Go Mobile Resource Centre is a cost-effective solution to address the lack of access to scientific educational resources in rural and peri-urban public schools that either lack the funds to provide adequate laboratory equipment or do not have any laboratories at all. It not only brings much-needed resources, but also experienced facilitators to build teachers' capacity and skills,” he said.

According to CASME, the National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) Standard Report indicated that only around 18% of ordinary public schools across the country have science laboratories, highlighting the need for strategic interventions.

“Science2Go is tackling this situation head-on by providing a community of schools with access to both the resources and expertise to deliver meaningful science teaching experiences. It will increase practical, hands-on learning and aims to enhance learners’ interest, participation and enrolment in science at the senior secondary and tertiary level,” Benson said.

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SAMCT made it clear that they will visit each of the targeted schools three times per term.

Prior to the school visits, teachers will also be expected to participate in workshops aimed at improving their skills and knowledge.

The Science2Go team will provide learners with special sessions pertaining to career, study, and subject choice information relating to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Participating schools take part in an annual Science Olympiad where learners' knowledge and skills of practical science are evaluated.

Schools invited to participate in the SAMCT Science2Go project were selected in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department and were drawn from five districts.

Managing Director of Mahle Behr South Africa, Alex Holmes added: “We are proud to welcome SAMCT as the sponsor of our Science2Go Mobile Resource Centre in the Western Cape. It's only through partnerships, such as this, that South Africa can hope to enhance the skills of learners in the STEM space. We are grateful to SAMCT for its generosity towards this exciting endeavour.”

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