Nerve Communications

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Teachers benefit from NPC Intercement's Education Project

Building a Nation one sum at a time

In order to build our nation we need educated, informed teachers to impart the correct knowledge to the future contributors of our country. With this harbinger echoing loudly to educators across the land we enter another academic year in institutions across the land.

Leading from the front, a local cement company with a thriving factory situated in Simuma in the heart of the Kwa Zulu Natal South Coast - NPC/Intercement is hitting the ground running.

A three year project which began in 2016 and which is partnered by the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME) as part of the partnership Education project between NPC Intercement and Ugu District – has laid the foundations to provide workshops for educators in this area. As many as 81 teachers from deep rural schools in Harding gathered for a one day workshop conducted by CASME

The project aims to improve learner outcomes and build strong foundations for learning in the lower grades. The focus for 2017 continues to provide teacher training and support for Maths and English teachers in grade 4 - 6.

NPC/Intercement which is a company that is deeply ensconced in community projects of various natures decided to invest in education as part of its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) programme and approached the Department of Basic Education in the Ugu District in early 2016 to explore ways in which it could make a meaningful contribution.

NPC / InterCement SA was eager to engage with the District to jointly deliver a local education initiative that would be embedded in the work of the District and which would provide additional support to schools in the area – particularly those in the communities around NPC’s operations in Port Shepstone and Margate.

With reference to the Teacher Development Plan, the District and NPC / InterCement SA designed a teacher development programme aimed at supporting Lead Mathematics educators in the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4 - 6). The Intermediate Phase was identified as the priority cohort most in need of intervention. In February 2016, the Centre for the Advancement of Mathematics and Science Education (CASME) was approached by NPC / InterCement SA and the Ugu District to support the implementation of the programme. Together the parties devised a three year project implementation plan that includes training workshops for 40 Intermediate Phase Mathematics Lead educators, held on a quarterly basis before the start of each school term.

The workshops focus on Mathematical content across the Intermediate Phase grades, as well as on pedagogical skills training. Trained educators are also provided with manuals to refer back to when designing and implementing their lesson plans in class. In order to maximise the number of educators who could benefit from the initiative, the Department of Basic Education, with the support from CASME and NPC / InterCement, designed a model for the Lead educators to cascade their training to their peers within their clusters.

In addition to the mathematics training, an English programme that will support English teachers has also been implemented . This programme will build on the 5-day training that was recently provided to Intermediate Phase EFAL educators by the British Council. The workshops began in September 2016 and will be based on a similar training model as the Mathematics programme.

The UGU district has welcomed this program and is already seeing some positive results. Teachers have changed their attitudes towards teaching mathematics. English teachers have gained more confidence in teaching in such a way that their communication skills have developed and various strategies on addressing their subject content have developed. Educators, through workshops by cluster leaders are able to prepare for work to be covered in the term and address content gaps, share methodology and a variety of strategies for learning different concept and share information on how to deal with different learning challenges.

The UGU district educational body has already received positive feedback from lead teachers and the rest of the mathematics teachers in schools. Principals have also indicated that they observe an improvement in the mathematics teaching since the beginning of the workshops.
On average 277 educators have attended Mathematics workshops and 502 educators are expected to attend mathematics workshops in future.
All the teachers teaching English under Ugu district especially in the Intermediate phase are involved in the programme and future attendance at upcoming workshops is estimated at 600 educators

“The NPC Intercement & CASME workshops provide high quality workshop materials and quality facilitation which includes motivation for educators to always do their best in ensuring quality learning and teaching. We really acknowledge the NPC Intercement and CASME’s role as they are providing us with more strategies and teaching methodologies without deviating from our subject policy. Topics tackled are facilitated in a manner that when teaching is taking place it gives clear clarity on how to develop more activities that creates an enjoyable environment for all the learners in the classroom.” Comments Nozipho Mbotho (Ugu District) she goes on to say “We foresee an improvement in the learner performance in these two subjects specifically. An improvement in English will have a positive spill over in other subjects which are taught in English.”

Over the next two years, the DBE, with the support of NPC / InterCement and CASME, intends to continue training Intermediate Phase Mathematics Lead educators in quarterly training workshops, which will continue to focus on curriculum content revision and teaching methodologies. In addition, both CASME and the District will undertake visits to schools to support educators with curriculum delivery. The learners of the participating educators will also have an opportunity to compete in CASME’s annual Mathematics Olympiad.

Currently the yardstick for effectiveness of teaching and learning, are Grade 12 results.
Nevertheless since this cohort of learners will be subjected to the Olympiad, their performance will thus be observed and analysed.

Learners’ improvement on Maths and English will improve literacy and numeracy in the nation as is one of the objectives of the NDP.

Information Sources
NPC Intercement
Ugu Municipality
Images supplied
Writer - Paul Godwin

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Jabulile speaks to students at Phambili High School

Jabulile offering some guidance to students at Phambili High School

The sky is the limit for 19-year-old Jabulile Mncwango (Umlazi) who obtained 4 distinctions as a student 
at Phambili High School. Next month Jabulile embarks on her university education as she starts her 
studies at UKZN Howard College Campus studying electrical engineering

Phambili High soars into 2017

The sky is the limit for 19-year-old Jabulile Mncwango (Umlazi) who obtained 4 distinctions as a student 
at Phambili High School. Next month Jabulile embarks on her university education as she starts her 
studies at UKZN Howard College Campus studying electrical engineering
 Photograph courtesy Paul Godwin

Despite its challenges and the fact that a great deal of work still has to be done both in the classroom and in the general infrastructure at Phambili High School in Rossburgh, 2016 was a positive milestone for the school with pupils and staff having reason to celebrate with a 60.1% matric pass rate. A total of 196 learners wrote the final exams last year with 24 students receiving a Bachelors Pass and 47 students a Matric Diploma.

Phambili High School is an institution that caters for low-income families and has many students that have encountered social problems in other schools. For some of these students Phambili High has been their last opportunity for receiving an education. Happily these students have accepted the challenge and are now thriving, thanks to a dedicated School Principal and teaching staff that have invested great personal time and effort to help the learners overcome their difficulties. The school also has students from all over Africa some of whom have learnt to speak isiZulu and English, as their mother tongue is actually French. Some students hail from other countries such DRC, Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique and other provinces like Eastern Cape.

“We are busy developing the School to become a normal High School in this area. Concentrating on and offering quality education to any student that wants to learn” states Londa Luthuli School Principal, “Part of this ongoing development requires that we need assistance from corporates.”  

Although the students have done the hard work, a significant part of this success has come from input from a local cement manufacturer NPC/Intercement who set up a brand new Science Lab and Library for the school. This has impacted positively on the school’s results in the subjects of Science and Mathematics. Science results increased from 16% to 37% and mathematics results from 13% in 2015 to 16% in 2016.

“I take this opportunity to thank NPC/Intercement for its positive involvement in our school which is benefiting the learners as well as other assistance it has given us in the past such as the Day of Doing Good program.” states Londa Luthuli School Principal

The setting up of both these facilities has enabled the students to have a better learning environment. The library is fully functional and has the necessary literature and facilities to create a positive learning area. The Science Lab has given students the ability to work on practical experiments, which has made them understand the subject of science better, and the good results are testament to that.

The library has also helped learners in the subject of English. The school has introduced a reading program and encourages all its learners to learn and have a better understanding of the English language and improved their language proficiency. This has resulted in a 90% improvement in the 2016 Matric results.

Graduation fever hit Phambili High School in Rossburgh recently as the school honoured its top performers. Pictured from left to right are: Sambulo Mtolo from Umlazi, Phambili High School Principal Londa Luthuli and Jabulile Mncwango (Umlazi). Both students benefitted from a much needed Science Lab and Library, which was funded by NPC/Intercement. Photograph courtesy Paul Godwin

One of the beneficiaries of the improved Science Lab and Library is 19-year-old Jabulile Mncwango who lives in Umlazi. Jabulile was an outstanding student in 2016 and passed with 4 distinctions. Next month Jabulile embarks on her university education, as she will be studying Electrical Engineering at UKZN Howard College Campus.

Jabulile comments “I have benefitted a lot from the new science lab. I certainly would not have got my “B” for Physical Science if I did not have the use of a lab as it allows us to do practical experiments and helps us understand the subject better. The availability of the lab certainly assisted and helped me gain more knowledge on the subject. It was also great to be able to have the use of the School Library. This helped me with my studying, as it was a peaceful and spacious place where I could work on my assignments and helped me with my study program. I believe reading is very important and the library was very helpful in this regard and the school also encouraged us to read more”  Jabulile continues “ Personally it was a very hectic year for me but thanks to our dedicated Principal and teachers and to the school partners such as NPC/Intercement I have reaped the rewards”

Another student entering the world with wide eyes is 19-year-old Sambulo Mtolo from Umlazi. Sambulo achieved a Bachelors Pass and will be studying Electrical Engineering at Mangosuthu University of Technology this year.

Sambulo took full advantage of the Science Lab and Library during his time at Phambili “ The fact that we could perform practical experiments in the lab was very helpful. It is very hard studying Science without the proper learning facilities. The Library was also very helpful to me as it had all the information I needed to study and assisted me with my subjects”

“I want to be a professional engineer. I also encourage the youth to go to school, learn and be successful. It takes hard work and dedication, but it is worth It.,” comments Sambulo

In 2015 NPC/Intercement funded Phambili High School an under performing school in the Durban suburb of Rossburgh. At the time the school was in need of assistance and was a school, which most corporate funders would shy away from due to the fact that many of the students were expelled from 'good' schools due to under performance or social issues, like violence and substance abuse.

NPC funded the setting up of a brand new library and science laboratory and as a direct result of NPC Intercement’s interventions there has been a positive turnaround at Phambili High School.

Smangele Tshabalala Transformation Manager at NPC/ Intercement comments “It is encouraging to see improvements in learner outcomes at Phambili – our company took a risk and funded this school when it was worst performing, because we believed every child has a potential, all they needed is a conducive environment to facilitate teaching and learning. Congratulations to the learners, the parents, the teachers and management of Phambili for your hard work and partnership.”

words and pictures - Paul Godwin