Today, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex visited the University of Johannesburg’s Science Centre. His Royal Highness is ‘a youth empowerment ambassador’. The Prince recognised the strides in science education intervention made by the institution.
The Prince interacted with students and teachers at the university’s Soweto campus. The centre’s director, Dr Sam Ramaila, said: “The changing face of education in South Africa poses not only riveting challenges but also vital questions concerning methods of aligning the dispensation’s rationale practically and effectively. Science educators are often criticised for their poor subject matter knowledge and competence resulting in a considerable number of high school learners struggling to pass the gateway subjects satisfactorily.”
More than 1,000 students and 600 teachers were assisted by the centre’s school intervention initiatives. These initiatives were as a result of a partnership between the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP) and the Institute of Physics (UK)‚. Students showed significant improvement in the relevant subjects.
Ramaila pointed out though, there is still more work that must be done at the national level. “There is no doubt that the country needs serious intervention strategies that could strengthen mentorship‚ support and guidance in curriculum implementation at secondary school level‚ especially at Grade 10‚ 11 and 12 level. The Centre is addressing some of the challenges faced by our country in the areas of Mathematics‚ Science‚ Engineering‚ Technology‚ and Innovation’. “The Centre’s teacher development project‚ supported by Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the British High Commission’s Prosperity Fund‚ is a key initiative of the SAIP with the vision to expand nationally.”
He also said: “University lecturers and tutors noticed that some learners are academically not well prepared for university. Many of the schools in Soweto do not have laboratories where learners can do practical experiments. The centre is an absolute necessity for the community because it not only prepares students for matric‚ but it also prepared them for the challenges associated with university studies.”
Students attend supervised laboratory and tutoring sessions along with theory lessons. The centre is certainly poised for national success because it utilises innovative science theory and laboratory lessons‚ computer training‚ exhibitions stressing on aspects of everyday life and other developments in Africa. These skills will allow for students to be well prepared to attend university and to carry that success into their futures.