South Africa has struggled to live up to its post-apartheid potential in many areas – but in education our lack of competitiveness in the vital areas of science and mathematics – which are the drivers of success in the modern, innovation-driven world – is glaring.
South Africa came 39th out of 39 countries in a 2016 assessment that focused on the science performance of Grade 9s.
A significant reason for that is the under-resourcing of rural schools and, therefore, the inability of teachers to use practical teaching aids in conveying scientific concepts.
It is sobering that just 18% of high schools in this country have proper science laboratories.
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It is encouraging to see that a KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) organisation, Steam Foundation, has developed local, cost-effective science test kits and equipment, to redress the problems.
With support from the German government and the Siemens and Smitz Foundations in that country, Steam is also training teachers to use the devices and learning material in the classroom.
More than merely conveying science, Steam aims to foster “creativity, collaboration, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills,” says CEO Kathryn Kure.
It is these traits which are critically important if our country’s pupils are to be able to apply their new-found science knowledge.
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