UJ inspires Gauteng teachers at workshop

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. Teachers are the primary role players in education. You, as teachers have the power. The power to mold today’s scholars into future leaders.​

This was the message from Ms Phuti Mahanyele, Chief Executive Officer of Shanduka Group, which inspired more than 600 mathematics and science educators attending a three-day teachers’ development workshop at the University of Johannesburg (UJ)’s Soweto Science Centre on 01 July 2014.
She stressed that the challenges associated with the low standard of mathematics and science education in South Africa are in some cases attributed to teachers’ lack of adequate content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge in mathematics and science, which leads to low quality teaching. She urged the teachers to facilitate learning and to make provision for teacher training, as learners need empowered teachers to become productive citizens.
Also addressing the delegates, the South African Institute of Physics’ president, Dr Igle Gledhill, said that coordinating effective actions and solving problems should be the focus. She believes that constructive peer coaching and innovative mentorship programmes can also benefit experienced teachers, adding that university physics and science departments should play a crucial role in teacher education.
Prof Azwinndini Muronga, Director of UJ’s Soweto Science Centre echoed Dr Gledhill sentiments. He added that there is no doubt that the country needs serious intervention strategies to strengthen mentorship, support and guidance in curriculum implementation at secondary school level, especially at grade 10, 11 and 12 level. “The UJ Soweto Science Centre aims to address some of the challenges faced by our country in the areas of Mathematics, Science, Engineering, Technology, and Innovation.”
Prof Muronga also highlighted that the UJ Soweto Science Centre fulfils a vitally important function in the community because it not only encourages learners to do well in matric, but it also prepares them for the challenges associated with university studies.
“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,” says Professor Muronga.
“As the epicenter of pedagogic innovation, the UJ Soweto Science Centre is ideally positioned to play an important role in nation-building efforts through the provision of​ innovative science theory and laboratory lessons, computer training, exhibitions focusing on aspects of everyday life and other developments relevant to South Africa,” says Muronga
He concluded: “The Soweto Science Centre coordinates a well-structured teacher professional development programme. Our focus is not just on learners, but also on teachers. We assist in empowering and enhancing the skills of mathematics and sciences teachers. The Centre provides teachers with the educational support of and assistance with learning content, mathematical and science related skills such as conducting laboratory experiments, professional development, knowledge and skills related to curriculum development and implementation. The Centre also serves as an alternative and additional resource centre for mathematics and science teachers. Mathematics and science study rooms as well as a computer laboratory with internet access are primarily used to train teachers in the use of relevant technology at different levels for various purposes.”
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