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A TRIED-AND-TRUSTED, technology-linked maths and science support programme is being introduced at several high schools in Mthatha – which is set to improve learners’ understanding and results, and grow the expertise of teachers in that area.

Prof Werner Olivier, Head of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Unit

The Integrated TouchTutor® Support Programme (ITSP), a three-year project sponsored by the Capitec Foundation and run by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Unit (GMMDU) in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education, is being formally launched at participating school, Umtata High, on February 10.

It will take the form of an Incubator School Programme (ISP) run on Saturdays for 90 selected Grade 10 to 12 learners with potential from five schools, and a parallel teacher Professional Learning Community (PLC) support programme – for 20 in-service mathematics teachers from 10 schools.

“This programme will [help] the Mthatha community to experience quality, offline technology-enhanced teaching and learning, that is curriculum-aligned and integrated with traditional teaching tools … [The learners will receive tablets which] will place learning at their fingertips … Teaching and learning will never be the same again,” said Umtata High School principal Siyakubonga Abraham.

“I have high hopes that maths and science results will improve … This [programme] will also develop confidence among teachers, and learners will have better understanding of the subjects they are doing.”

Each of the ISP learners will receive tablets, on which they can access GMMDU’s innovative teaching and learning programme – packaged as TouchTutor® software – after school hours in the form of a “personal tutor”. Teachers will receive laptops loaded with the same curriculum-aligned software, which they can use as a teaching resource within the classroom. -

The ISP and PLC programmes are currently being run with great success at over 80 schools in seven districts of the Eastern Cape.

“TouchTutor® resources combined with our Technology Assisted Peer Support (TAPS) approach has proved to be a very successful approach, which presents a modern and flexible offline scaffolding [support] platform for mathematics and physical science in secondary schools,” said Prof Werner Olivier, who heads up GMMDU.

TouchTutor® was developed by GMMDU over a five-year period, specifically for use in under-resourced schools where internet support was not viable. It includes video lessons and animated PowerPoint lesson presentations, which are fully-aligned with the CAPS curriculum for Grades 10 to 12, along with extensive teaching and learning material, designed to boost understanding among learners, while also boosting the core skills and knowledge of their teachers. The package includes the mathematics software package GeoGebra, past matric papers (with memoranda), self-assessment and feedback, interactive mathematics language (in six indigenous South African languages), calculator support and other high-tech resources.

 “One of our main aims with the programme is to nurture learners to improve their chances of getting into and being successful at universities and colleges.”

The Capitec Foundation first partnered with GMMDU three years ago, when a similar three-year ITSP programme was introduced for Queenstown schools, hosted by Get Ahead College.

“We are excited to extend our partnership with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Unit (GMMDU) and the Department of Basic Education, to Mthatha,” said Carl Fischer, chairperson of the Capitec Foundation.

“Maths is a vital life skill as it enables learners to develop the ability to solve complex problems and be prepared for careers that requires these skills. The Integrated TouchTutor® Support Programme (ITSP), gives learners, especially those in rural areas, access to innovative, technology driven platforms to help them excel in maths, access tertiary education and get the skills to be employed and contribute to our economy.

“We hope the learners will benefit from this programme and wish them continued success,”

Over 1000 tablets are being distributed this year to deserving learners through the ISP programme or the TAPS programme.

More than 200 in-service teachers are also receiving training, and maths and science resource centres have been placed in more than 100 schools over the past three years. For these projects, GMMDU has partnered with various other blue chip private funding organisations, including Zenex, the Telkom Foundation and Old Mutual.

Nozibele Siphambo, who is the Deputy Chief Education Specialist for Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Mathematical Literacy in the Mthatha district, called the programme “a very good and progressive initiative”.

“This programme promotes the love of maths and science … It provides fun in the process of learning.” 

Contact information
Prof Werner Olivier
Director of GMMDC
Tel: 27 41 504 2305