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SMATE UNIT (Science, Mathematics &Technology Education)

Education kills poverty!

The high failure rate amongst poor, historically disadvantaged grade twelve learners continues to be a major challenge and concern to educators, parents, employers, the government and other stakeholders despite our democracy being in its 14th year of existence. Recent media reports clearly illustrate an educational system that has not adequately addressed the needs of our poor learners in disadvantaged communities. Failure denies such high risk learners the opportunity to realise their aspirations of pursuing a career based on a qualification attained at a higher education institution. These learners are at risk when they are in danger of failing to complete their education with an adequate level of knowledge and skills.

Therefore, in order to strengthen the capacity of the educational resources for grade twelve learners in the Port Elizabeth district, the VBSRL project was initiated in 2007 with key role players being the ECDoE in Port Elizabeth and the Missionvale campus of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. The partnership arrangement between the ECDoE and NMMU was that the pilot project would focus solely on preparing the grade twelve learners who failed the 2007 examinations. The enrichment activities for these learners supplemented the formal programme introduced by the ECDoE to enable these learners to pass the examinations scheduled for May/June 2008. The pilot project was aptly titled:

Use of Video-Based Self-Regulated Learning (VBSRL) instructional strategies to prepare and enable the poor, disadvantaged grade twelve learners to pass their supplementary examinations.

A culture of high expectations is a hallmark of high achieving schools. Unfortunately, low expectations are common in high poverty schools. Fire building is an apt metaphor for what we hope to achieve with poor, disadvantaged learners with the VBSRL programme – not igniting a Roman candle that quickly burns out, but creating a blaze that burns steadily and continuously with the relevant support structures firmly in place. This is what we plan and planned to achieve with VBSRL. Those of us who have laboured to ignite learning under challenging conditions know that – like building a fire in damp woods – it is neither easy to spark a flame nor simple to sustain it. Through the apt use of VBSRL strategies to supplement the formal school curriculum programmes, an interest in learning and commitment to excel by grade twelve high risk learners can be developed and sustained.

Contact information
Professor Prakash Singh
Professor
Tel: 27 41 504 2898
prakash.singh@mandela.ac.za

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