Philippi school principal vows to keep Maths and Science pass rate at 100%

The Kutlwanong ProMaths Centre achieved the improbable last year when all its Maths and Physical Science learners passed their matriculation exams.

The centre manager of Kutlwanong Promaths in Philippi has promised the same matric results in Mathematics and Physical Science that they achieved last year. Mothipa Poopedi, the centre manager and the principal of Sinethemba Senior Secondary School in Philippi has vowed that they will repeat the 100% pass rate that the centre achieved last year.

“I will be wearing a bright suit, sitting at the back during the National Senior Certificate awards next year and smiling while accepting awards with the pass rate of 100% in Physical Science and Maths,” bragged Poopedi.

The programme to improve the teaching of maths and science in Philippi was started in July of 2013. Ten high school principals came together to establish the programme because in the matriculation exams their schools performed poorly in these subjects. It is, however, very limited – the centre is only able to enroll 150 learners.

“The advantage of the programme is that it has been able to give township learners a chance to attend universities studying towards degrees in actuarial science, engineering and many other courses.” Teachers usually work in silos but Kutlwanong Promaths gives teachers the opportunity to work in groups and share information. The teachers are assisted by the curriculum coordinators within the programme. “When teachers leave the Kutlwanong centre they take what they have learned back to their classrooms,” Poopedi said.

One of the schools that is benefiting from the centre is Intsebenziswano Senior Secondary School. The school is situated in Philippi, a community deeply affected by crime, substance abuse, socio-economic issues and a high rate of school dropouts.

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The school produced a top learner – Kamva Goso – who was one of the country’s top achievers.

“The biggest factor that has contributed to success at the school is that I have a supportive staff and school governing body,” said Moipone Sam, the school principal.

Sam said that they have weekend camps to assist learners to study for the exams. The camp is done at the school in the evenings with staff members present and all stakeholders from parents to the caretaker involved.

Like most schools in the township, the school has no computer or physical science lab and the vision for next year, according to Sam, is to equip their science lab with material to teach and learn science experiments. She further pleaded “that the school needs donations to make the science lab a reality. That’s how our school library was funded – through donations.”

A Physical Science teacher at the school, Adagha Oghenero, said that they are under pressure to produce another Kamva this year. Since the school lacks resources, Oghenero told Elitsha that he has to improvise and wishes in the near future to have a science laboratory and a smart board with a projector.

The school also partners with other schools in the area and invites mobile science centres to demonstrate some experiments for the learners. “I have three learners that I have identified, and groomed and hopefully I will be able to produce a top 2 or top 3 learner but I am expecting a minimum of a 90% pass rate for 2019,” he said.

The Kutlwanong Centre was established 14 years ago in Dobsonville, Soweto. The programme provides Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners with extra education to enter professional careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Poor performance in township and rural schools in these subjects is the reason that the programme was launched.

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In 2018, the programme scored 267 distinctions in maths from 1,176 Promaths learners, and 412 distinctions in science from 1,173 Promaths learners – a 5% contribution to the total number nationally of distinctions in maths and science!

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