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IN a bid to boost maths results throughout the Eastern Cape, a group of academically top-performing Grade 10, 11 and 12 maths teachers, all from disadvantaged schools, have been selected to mentor and assist other teachers in their districts, and also help with structured exam revision.

TEACHERS SUPPORTING TEACHERS … A group of 150 top-performing maths teachers from disadvantaged high schools across the province attend training, equipping them to be “Lead Mathematics Teachers”, who will be able to assist and mentor other maths teachers. Co-leading the initiative are (in the middle of the group) Prof Werner Olivier, head of the Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Unit (GMMDU) at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and (to his left) Duma Ncanywa, the Department of Basic Education’s Chief Director: Skills Development.

A total of 150 teachers identified as “Lead Mathematics Teachers” in the province have just completed four days of training (June 2 to 5) through a programme jointly run by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Unit (GMMDU) and the Department of Basic Education (DBE). Training took place at the Coega Village Conference Centre in Port Elizabeth – and a further four days’ training are planned for later this year.

“In each of the 23 DBE districts of the Eastern Cape, a number of teachers have been identified to assist their colleagues at under-performing schools,” said GMMDU head Prof Werner Olivier.

“We want to empower a cohort of selected in-service Maths teachers to turn around the achievement of mathematics outcomes in the province.

“The lead teachers will share resources, boost content and encourage teachers to get involved in various extra-curricular classes, like winter school programmes, while also utilising innovative digital teaching and learning resources that have been developed by GMMDU.”

Duma Ncanywa, the DBE’s Chief Director: Skills Development, said the lead teachers would work closely with district subject advisors. “In the coming years, the DBE will also be setting up similar support structures, including the establishment of Professional Learning Centres, for Grade 7 to 9 Maths teachers to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in these grades.”

Cecil Heradien, Subject Adviser for Mathematics (FET level): Port Elizabeth District, said the Eastern Cape’s lead teacher initiative – the only such initiative in the country – would greatly benefit both teachers and learners. “It will help teachers become more confident in teaching curriculum content to learners.”

As the only maths subject advisor in the Port Elizabeth district, Heradien oversees about 200 maths teachers at 80 high schools – which makes it difficult to provide individualised support. Lead teachers will now be able to form small cluster groups with their peers, which will address this challenge.

He said the project would also expose more teachers to using technology in their classrooms. “Not only will it save time [drawing sketches], but it will also help learners to better visualise the concepts.”

GMMDU has run accredited Mathematics Content and Skills Upgrade Programmes (Mathsup) for over 700 Eastern Cape teachers over the past three years, and the lead teachers have been hand-picked as those who performed at distinction level, within this group.

Each of the teachers who attends Mathsup receives a laptop with GMMDU’s innovative technology-linked teaching and learning programme (packaged as TouchTutorTM), which has been developed in line with modern learners’ learning requirements. It is used not just to boost their own understanding of the Maths curriculum, but also as a teaching resource to be used in the classroom. TouchTutor includes video lessons, interactive PowerPoint presentations, assessment (with feedback), language support and a host of other digital features, fully-aligned with the Grade 10 to 12 syllabus. It offers the same for Physical Science teachers.

GMMDU runs Mathsup in parallel to its flagship incubator programme for selected learners with potential, where learners receive TouchTutor on a tablet, which they can use after school hours as a “personal tutor”. There is also a desktop model – which includes TouchTutor on PCs – which has been introduced at over 100 schools in the Eastern Cape to assist learners outside of the incubation programme.