After completing a number of long distance running events in recent years, including the Comrades Marathon on a number of occasions, this year Masicorp fundraiser Elize Taylor is tackling trail running. Elize has set herself a sponsorship target of R25,000 and is well on the way to reaching her goal.
Although still very much a novice she has been in training for several months and recently completed the first of three major events this year – AfricanX, which is held annually in the mountains around Elgin. The event was split into three stages, with Stage 1 covering a total distance of 36km and reaching a total ascent of 900m. Stage 2 covered 34km, but the total ascent on this leg of the race was 1100m, while Stage 3 saw the athletes covering a total distance of 22km with a total ascent of 800m. It sounds daunting but Elize completed it all with a time of 16 hours, 29 minutes and 12 seconds over the three days.
Next up (June 13th) is the Transfrontier Richtersveld trail run, which sounds even more daunting at 200km over 5 days. This race extends from South Africa to Namibia through the ancient arid landscape of the Ai Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
All funds raised are going towards Masicorp’s project to upgrade Ukhanyo Primary School’s sports field, which we discussed in our previous blog. Masicorp has an excellent relationship with Ukhanyo Primary School, which takes all 1,600 of the township’s children aged 6 to 14. With Masicorp’s assistance the school has developed teaching facilities that are a benchmark for township schools, but their sports facilities remain limited. Masicorp have been successful in providing sports equipment and kits for the soccer, netball and cricket teams. However, the school sports field is in a terrible condition, and in places it is an uneven sandpit filled with rubble and broken glass. Masicorp have drawn up plans for a complete renovation. The first stage is to level the field, remove the rubble and prepare it for the construction of a multi-purpose sports field that can be used for netball, soccer and cricket. This is now complete but funds are urgently need to complete phase II, which involves the laying of turn and completion of a running track.
You can help Elize by contributing toward her project HERE.
The Masicorp Annual General Meeting was held in the language lab at Ukhanyo School in Masiphumelele on 10th December 2015. Our thanks to everyone that was able to attend and contributed to a successful meeting. For those unable to attend the meeting you will be able to catch up on the progress made in all of our project areas in our new look Annual Report, which as available from our office in hard copy or as a PDF download from our website HERE.
The following slides were presented at the meeting.
There is no escape from the fact that Mathematics is a problem subject area for South African learners. While many schools across the country have reported good matric pass levels, the national press has been quick to report that mathematics pass grades are falling – and this is even true in the generally less taxing mathematics literacy subject area. It is even more worrying to note that in many parts of the country this poor performance in mathematics is linked to a lack of ability in the teachers delivering the subject material. This was highlighted in the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Information Technology report, which ranked South Africa’s science and maths education as the worst in the world.
Much has subsequently being written about the report and its perceived shortcomings, but many education experts in South Africa have recognised the need for a better quality of learning experience in the science and maths subject areas. The Centre for Development and Enterprise has specifically addressed the issues around maths education in South Africa in a series of reports that can be downloaded HERE.
We have previously reported how the Science Lab project is bucking the national trend in science education at Ukhanyo School in Masiphumelele. This month sees the start of a similar initiative to improve mathematics teaching. The Maths Lab is a refurbished classroom in Ukhanyo School, where we will be attempting to raise the quality of the learning experience for teachers and learners from Grade 4 onward.
Masicorp is very fortunate to have Scott and Laurie Smith to lead the project. Scott is a qualified engineer and mathematics teacher, who has taught maths from elementary to high school level in the United States. Scott and Laurie arrived in Cape Town six-months ago to establish the Maths Lab and have spent that time designing an open learning space with re-usable teaching aids, which Ukhanyo teachers will have access to for maths classes. They have spent much of their recent time trialing the new teaching aids with Grade 4 learners, who have responded very positively to the increased contact time.
Previously teachers were having to select one pupil at a time to solve problems on a blackboard in front a class of around 40 learners. Now each student will have their own whiteboard, and all learners can work through the same problems together. Scott will be available to guide the teachers in the use of the new materials and to advise them on how to improve the learning experience for their learners. Just as with the Science Lab, the aim is teach the teachers so that the facilty becomes a sustainable resource for the school.
Scott and Laurie have volunteered their time for three years to manage the project, with start-up funds for the new facility being provided by an extremely generous anonymous donor from the United States, as well as Bateleur Capital in South Africa and a few others. We cannot thank them enough for their commitment, and with the first classes due to start at the end of this month we know the teachers and learners at Ukhanyo will also soon be extremely grateful for their work at the school.