KZN maths and science pupils among worst

2013-11-01 00:00

KZN maths and science pupils are ranked among the worst performing pupils in the country.

A shortage of textbooks and the lack of competent teachers in these core subjects is further hampering pupil development, according to a report by the Department of Basic Education.

The report investigated the department’s implementation of the maths, science and technology (MST) strategy in SA schools.

It found the province came eighth in the 2012 National Senior Certificate in maths and science, beating only the Eastern Cape.

Provincial Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi admitted that the department was facing various challenges.

He said money has been set aside for the Dinaledi Schools Project, which aims to improve what are termed “gateway subjects” such as maths and science, in poorly performing areas.

Mahlambi said other initiatives to improve results include further teacher training and winter schools for pupils.

According to the report, “the productivity of teachers impacts on every other element of schooling, including learner success” and that “urgent and detailed plans” to improve teaching are needed before any other plans will have a “chance to succeed”.

It highlighted poor implementation of the strategy at school level.

Other key findings made in KZN included:

• Teachers complained that workbooks provided by the Basic Education Department contained many errors and that Siyavula textbooks did not provide the depth required by the curriculum.

• Subject advisory services expressed frustration because they were not aware of what was expected from them.

• The non-specialisation of maths and science teachers in grades R to 9 was a concern to principals.

• The members of the MST team work in silos.

• Science practical work is almost non-existent, making it difficult to choose science careers.

• Language impacted on teaching and learning of maths and science in Grade 4 when pupils switch to English.

• Hey Maths!, a software program that makes it easier and fun for children has been installed on two laptops in each of 80 schools.

• KZN was not clear on the status of the MST strategy document.

The task team heading the investigation and appointed by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga interviewed officials, from teachers to heads of provincial departmental, in all nine provinces.

The national strategy for MST education in schools was first published in 2001.

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