On 28 August, the learners participated in activities at the KZN Science Centre at Gateway, and on 29 August they attended science career lectures and a field visit at SASRI (the South African Sugarcane Research Institute) in Mount Edgecombe. These were important opportunities for these FET learners to obtain first-hand information on career choices.
Through its 2013 new and improved education programmes, the KZN Gateway Science Centre assists schools to introduce their learners to the world of science and technology. Activities are based on the science theme celebrated each month. At the centre, the Pongola learners were taken through educational programmes on Biotechnology, Chemistry, Electricity, Mechanics, Sound and Waves, and Materials and Matter (Nanotechnology).
The Phongola Education Centre laboratory is a resource for the 32 high schools in the area. Schools can visit the centre to conduct the experiments required by the curriculum. The experiments help learners understand Science better and do better in their examinations.
Teachers can also borrow science kits from the centre to conduct experiments in their classrooms. MIET AFRICA’s tutors and youth science facilitators also visit the schools to help them with these practicals.
The aim of MIET AFRICA’s Science and Mathematics Enhancement Programme is to increase the numbers of disadvantaged learners who qualify for tertiary-level studies in Science- and Maths-related fields. All high schools in all four education wards in the Pongola Circuit were identified as beneficiaries.
So far, the project has enjoyed some spectacular successes; so many thanks must go to the funder, the Sugar Industry Trust Fund for Education. For example, of the 32 distinctions that all the learners in the Pongola Circuit obtained in the 2012 Matric exams, 29 were achieved by learners enrolled in the project’s Saturday and holiday class extra-tuition programme. These learners were drawn from only 16 of the 32 high schools in the Circuit. But the project also aims to support all 32 high schools, for example by making science equipment available to them, so that learners have the opportunity to actually perform the practicals required of them by the curriculum.