Extra Maths Classes for Masi High Students

For several years Masicorp has run a program to provide additional maths tuition to Masiphumelele High School learners, with the help of volunteer Mr Rob Douglas, a mathematics teacher from nearby Fish Hoek High School. This year Rob has started running an additional after school class on Thursdays. The sessions are run at Fish Hoek High thanks to funding from Masicorp that provides transport for the learners from Masiphumelele.

classRob’s counterpart at Masiphumelele High, Mr Mlandu, has offered the classes to his learners and arranges for about 20 students to attend each week. A few learners from Fish Hoek High also attend but the large majority of the class travel from Masiphumelele. The classes are voluntary, but are popular with those students who are keen to improve their maths grades. With mathematics remaining a problem subject area in South Africa this is an important initiative.

RD1The learners from Masiphumelele get the advantage of Rob’s time, as well as some of his Fish Hoek colleagues and Mr Mlandu, as well as the benefits of a small class with excellent teaching facilities. Each week Mr Mlandu suggests particular problem areas in the curriculum that the class have struggled with and Rob takes them through some examples. Actual questions from past exam papers are worked through with guidance from the teaching volunteers.

As with the Saturday morning sessions, the extra tuition for the Masi High students can only help improve their Matric prospects and their willingness to attend these after school sessions a testament to the quality of education on offer and their positive attitude toward learning. Once again we have to thank the staff at both schools for making this hugely important project happen.

The Masicorp Bursary Scheme and its Potential to Support Vocational Education

For the past two months Masicorp has been hosting two masters students from the University of Edinburgh, who were undertaking research work in Masiphumelele as part of their MSc course in International Development. Both students gave their feedback to us last week, and left us with some interesting thoughts on how to further develop our existing programmes.

MatumeloFirst up was Matumelo Wilkin, who although originally from South Africa is currently living with her family in China and studying in Edinburgh. She clearly has an international profile that impressed everyone in Masicorp. We gave Matumelo a project brief based around our existing bursary scheme for higher education, which has successfully helped over thirty Masiphumelele students onto university courses in Cape Town. While the programme has been a big success we are interested in how it could be extended to cover students who may not qualify for, or desire to, undertake the academic style of learning offered at university. We therefore asked Matumelo to examine tertiary education but with a focus on opportunities for vocational livelihoods (i.e. looking at job opportunities that require local college or trade/skills training rather than university level education, e.g. IT technician, plumber, etc.).

Matumelo interviewed many groups of current high school students at the library, and also local businesses to determine if both the desire and demand for vocational training existed in the local area. We were pleased to find that those in the community that knew of Masicorp’s work valued the bursary scheme and in particular the role of the mentors, which were heavily praised by existing bursary students. It seems there will be more of a challenge to increase awareness among students at the high school, with many currently unaware of the bursary opportunity. Currently Masicorp is attracting interest through the friends and family of existing bursary students, who hear about the scheme through word of mouth.

Overall a clear need for vocational education was identified, but Matumelo found that it was not always a well perceived concept within the community. For those students with a desire to undertake further education there is a definite push for university level training, with vocational education often seen as a second best option – or even a failure. Many students were unaware of the term, and believed it is an inferior option for weak students.

feparkMatumelo also visited several businesses in the industrial parks that surround Masiphumelele, and in most cases identified a willingness to host vocational students on apprenticeship schemes. Her final report has left Masicorp with some ideas about how we could structure and finance a vocational education scheme. Once we have digested this, the challenge will be how best to identify suitable students and give them the appropriate career guidance.

It may be that vocational education courses are more suited to the many students that drop out of formal education for social reasons, rather than those that attend functions at the library and are already engaged in learning programmes. One key issue is that all students need exposure to a variety of professions that will inspire them and encourage vocational training. Many students interviewed by Matumelo were aware of their social realities, and identified various roles they would like to study for (e.g. physchology in response to supporting the many orphaned and abused children in the community).

Overall Matumelo has confirmed a lot of our anecdotal observations and left us with some good ideas on how to take this forward. We thank her very much, and wish her all the best with the final report, which will complete her masters course.

Saturday Morning Maths Skills for Masiphumelele Students

It has been unseasonabally warm in the Western Cape this weekend. With temperatures well into the twenties and bright blue skies many locals have headed for the hills and beaches to take advantage of the unusual winter heatwave. Not so at Masiphumele High School where the grade 9 students were queuing up for extra science and maths tuition on Saturday morning.

school-saturday Rob Douglas from Fish Hoek High initiated the successful program, which has been running for a couple of years now with financial assistance from Masicorp. The project involves staff from Masiphumelele High School, and colleagues from the nearby and more affluent Fish Hoek High School. A typical Saturday starts with Masiphumelele staff preparing the room as learners arrive for a 9.30 start. Up to 220 students have turned up as news of the program has spread through the community via letters and SMS’s to parents. Allison Grobelaar from Fish Hoek High is first up to take the students through a science session. Theory and practical demonstrations are part of the class, which has been a new addition to this year’s program.

Mr Rob (Fish Hoek High) and his counterpart Mr Mlandu (Masiphumelele High) lead the main maths session and set the students homework assignments.

teachersThe learners sit in small teams and are given instruction via a large projected image on the wall of the main hall. An interactive computer program has been provided with the assistance of Masicorp and allows the viewing of videos and past examination papers for the students to review.

The learners and staff at Masiphumele High have benefitted enormously from the knowledge and mentoring of staff at Fish Hoek’s excellent high school. The extra tuition for the township students can only help advance their Matric prospects and their willingness to attend is a testament to the quality of education on offer and their positive attitude toward learning. Of course all of this would be impossible if it was not for the time given to the program by the staff at both schools for which we can only give our continued thanks.