A HISTORY OF casme
1985 - 1994
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The critical shortage of high level skills in South Africa, particularly in the fields of technology and science, was a matter of growing concern among educationists, academics, business and industry leaders during the seventies and early eighties.
The historical imbalances of the apartheid education system and the associated unfair labour practices led to a mal-distribution of skills. This had the result that some 95% of the country's scientific and technological skills were being drawn from the white segment of the population only.
The Board of Shell SA were aware that the future development of the country - as well as the continuing success of Shell - depended on a growing supply of skilled people. In particular, there was an urgent need for redress to enable blacks to acquire the necessary skills and qualifications to perform engineering and technical jobs, and to play a leading role in decision-making. The weak link in this supply chain was the poor quality of Maths and Science education, particularly at the black schools.
A survey commissioned by Shell in 1982 into private sector education projects reinforced the conviction that there was a growing need to extend Shell's support in these fields, augmented by programmes in communication skills.
PILOT PROJECT LAUNCHED
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After initially looking at the feasibility of establishing a Maths and Science centre in the Western Cape, Durban was chosen as an ideal location because of the proximity of tertiary education facilities and employment opportunities, the absence of competing projects, the favourable attitude of educationists and the size of the target community.
Moreover primary and secondary education in KwaZulu-Natal, which was controlled by five separate education departments, was - and still is - generally considered to be one of the poorest in the country.
The Shell Science Pilot Project was launched on 1st January 1985 at the University of Natal's Durban campus. The project was formalised in October of that year at the inaugural meeting of the Board of Trustees and the registration of the Shell Science and Mathematics Resource Centre Educational Trust.
The broad objectives of the Trust were to improve the quality of Science and Mathematics education in KwaZulu-Natal among secondary school teachers and students, and to promote an awareness of the importance of Science and Maths in the general community.
The rationale for the establishment of the Centre was set out in a Shell Business Report published in 1986: "Our primary objective is to attempt to redress the educational deficiencies and lack of opportunities in a system which has entrenched unequal and differential education for decades."
However the founders were aware that addressing the deficiencies in the education system was not enough, and that the Centre should also be an agent of change.
The Report goes on to clearly state these intentions: "A major tension in the educational field at present results from the need for useful educational initiatives which do not bolster the educational establishment ... One wants to be working towards changing the system to a single educational authority which would provide equal educational opportunity for all."
The Centre's first Director was Dr Phillip Botha, a Professor in the Department of Social Work at the University of Port Elizabeth, who had been involved in the establishment of a similar Shell-funded project in the Eastern Cape.
With a small staff of four and operating from offices at the University of Natal's Durban campus, the task of developing programmes to achieve the objectives set out by the Trust began.
Initially the Centre focussed its programmes on teachers and school principals on the one hand, and pupils on the other.
Staff recognised from the start that upgrading the subject knowledge and teaching skills of teachers would have a lasting impact on the quality of education in the chosen subjects. Furthermore it was imperative to build the leadership capacities of teachers and principals so any programmes could be driven by the educators themselves, and therefore be sustainable in the long term.
Thus teacher in-service training (INSET) workshops, as well as various leadership and management programmes were developed and implemented.
However programmes were also developed specifically for students. These were essentially a response to the chaotic situation prevailing in the black schools at the time, and the need to assist pupils to prepare for the all-important matric examination.
TEACHER IN-SERVICE TRAINING
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In-service training for Maths and Science teachers has been a cornerstone of the Centre's activities since its establishment in 1985.
Many of the teachers who constitute the target group are required to work under difficult circumstances, and it was felt that by providing them with support and training the Centre would be making a significant contribution to the quality of Maths and Science education in the region. The multiplier effect ensures that a large number of students would reap the benefits.
A high percentage of Science and Maths teachers are under-qualified, and are themselves the products of a disadvantaged education system. Moreover there is very little in the way of professional support for teachers, and many of them are teaching in under-resourced and overcrowded schools.
In addition, they tend to feel isolated from each other and powerless to solve some of the problems they face at school on their own.
INSET programmes were therefore designed to achieve a number of objectives. These include to upgrade the teacher's conceptual knowledge of their subject, to increase their confidence as regards the syllabus content, to introduce them to innovative teaching and testing methods, to provide material support and to provide a forum for sharing ideas and experiences.
Typical INSET programmes consist of four, two-day workshops a year in each subject. From 1988 to 1990 additional five-day workshops were held at Michaelhouse school in January and July for all the teachers in the region. These sessions provided a more concentrated period of contact with teachers.
Attendance at the INSET workshops has always been voluntary. The pattern that has emerged is that a core of teachers would attend workshops regularly for two or three years until they felt they had gained the full benefits.
From the start the teachers themselves were encouraged to take responsibility for their own professional development by being involved in organising and planning the INSET workshops, initially through Action Committees and later through the Subject Interest Groups.
A common experience of the co-ordinators has been that underqualified or inexperienced teachers who lack basic knowledge and understanding of their subject are unable to focus on other areas, such as practical work or innovative teaching and testing. Thus the content of INSET workshops in Maths, Science and Biology have tended to place the emphasis on covering the matric syllabus.
However by concentrating on the conceptual understanding of topics, using problem solving and group work, the workshops provide an educative experience which can be played out again in the teachers' own classrooms.
The Physical Science INSET programme was introduced by Paul Hobden, and the Maths INSET programme by Dexter Luthuli.
Zuzi Mthembu (Physical Science) and Phil Ntenza (Mathematics) were appointed as programme implementors in 1988 to assist Hobden and Luthuli.
Ann Ziervogel joined the staff in 1987, and was responsible for the English for Specific Purposes programme, and for initiating the Biology INSET.
Following a request by teachers, an INSET programme for Standard 8 English teachers from the Port Shepstone circuit was introduced in 1989. Njabula Mabaso was appointed to run this programme until it was discontinued in mid-1991.
MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAMME
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A management course for secondary school principals was launched by the Centre in 1987 in response to a request by the KwaZulu Department of Education and Culture, and Eric Gumbi was appointed as co-ordinator.
The need for such a programme was identified as principals received no training in school management and administration on appointment. It is a demanding job at the best of times, and especially so in the turbulent social, political and economic environment prevailing.
The purpose of the programme was to improve the managerial skills and leadership of the principals, and to encourage in them the attitude that they are the key facilitators of high-quality education. The focus was on self-management to assist the participant to grow as a person, and thus be empowered.
In 1991 it was replaced by a new programme, known as the Organsiational Development Programme, which was targeted at school principals, deputies and heads of department. It contained elements of self-development as well as school development, and was designed to create a conducive environment at the schools for teachers who were involved in INSET.
CURRICULUM EXTENSION PROGRAMME (CEP)
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The CEP was initiated by the Centre in 1985 to assist pupils from disadvantaged educational and social backgrounds to obtain a good pass in the matriculation examination in Physical Science and Maths.
The programme was largely a response to the widespread school boycotts and unrest which were seriously disrupting education in black schools at the time.
Initially the programme utilised materials that had been developed for the University Preparation Programme introduced by the Urban Foundation.
However the Centre's permanent staff - bolstered by the appointments of Paul Hobden (Physical Science) and Dexter Luthuli (Mathematics) - began to design their own courses and prepared instructional materials in consultation with tutors.
The first group comprised Standard 9 pupils from schools in the greater Durban area, including Umlazi, KwaMashu, Phoenix and Sydenham. The programme followed a two-year cycle which took them through to 1986 in their matriculation year.
Data on the matric results of students who participated in the first CEP was compiled at the end of 1986. It was found that of the 91 participating students, 78 passed, 45 with Exemption, which entitled them to enter university. These results were encouraging.
The first three-year CEP course was launched in 1987. Concerned with the fact that very few black candidates were leaving high school to follow careers in science and technology, the Centre decided to extend the duration of the CEP to a three-year cycle, thus admitting pupils in their Standard 8 year. It was hoped that this longer period of study would enable tutors to deal more closely with learning problems encountered by participants and to provide more enrichment.
The programme focussed on three subjects, Mathematics, Physical Science and English (for communication in Mathematics and Science). As English was the medium of instruction in textbooks and in the classroom, it was felt that supplementary tuition in English would improve pupils' understanding of Mathematics and Science.
Ann Ziervogel joined the staff at the beginning of that year to co-ordinate the teaching of English.
Tuition was offered for two hours per subject on three afternoons of the week at four study centres in the Durban area (Umlazi, Swinton, VN Naik and Toncoro). Centres were also established in Newcastle and Greytown.
A total of 214 students from 19 schools took part in the programme.
At the start of the programme 36 experienced school teachers or ex-teachers of high repute were employed as tutors.
However in 1988 and 1989 tutors were appointed on a different basis. Each group was tutored by two people in each subject, a subject teacher from one of the participating schools together with an experienced outside tutor. This encouraged the teachers (and the schools) to become more involved in the programme, and provided them with a valuable form of in-service training.
A study of matric results of students who had participated in CEP showed that they consistently outperformed non-participating students. In the control group, 18% passed Science as opposed to 59% for CEP students. The Maths results showed a similar pattern.
Quite apart from the encouraging examination results, the CEP provided valuable experience for Centre staff. The programme provided direct services to the actual target population, and gave staff an opportunity to establish contact with the community members of catchment areas.
In addition it provided an opportunity for personal contact with a group of high-achieving pupils whose interest and competence in Science and Maths was stimulated.
Co-operation between the Centre's tutors and the school teachers served to upgrade the professional standards of the latter.
MATRIC EXAM PREPARATION PROJECT & WINTER SCHOOLS
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These projects were specifically directed towards students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their final year of study, in order to assist them to pass their matric exam.
The project was partly a response to frequent requests by a wider group of scholars, who were not included in the CEP, but who nevertheless wanted extra tuition in Maths and Physical Science to improve their chances of passing matric.
The programmes were initiated in 1986, and took two forms: Winter Schools and Saturday Schools.
Winter Schools for Standard 10 pupils were organised and run by the Centre in various locations around Natal/KwaZulu from 1986. The Schools comprised of a five-day intensive tutoring programme which focussed on examination related knowledge and experience.
1986 Winter Schools were held in four different centres - Estcourt, Umlazi, Chatsworth and Newcastle - and were attended by more than 1 000 pupils coming from 57 schools.
Evaluation by Centre staff after the 1986 Winter School led to several significant changes for the 1987 School.
It was decided to focus only on the African population, hence Indian schools were not invited. (Nevertheless in Estcourt and Ladysmith a small contingent of Indian students attended.)
In 1987 only students who studied all three main science subjects i.e. Mathematics, Science and Biology, were admitted to the Winter School. These criteria ensured that the participants were a selected group of students with a high level of ability.
The curriculum was restricted to the three science subjects only (in 1986, English was also taught).
The 1987 Winter Schools were operated in Estcourt, Ladysmith, Madadeni and Newcastle.
Beginning in 1986, regular Saturday Schools were held in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, involving scholars from some 42 schools.
Typically, tuition was provided over a 20 week period in English, Physical Science and Maths, and was concentrated on those areas in which syllabus knowledge was weak.
Saturday Schools were subsequently run in Newcastle, Kwambonambi and Greytown.
Saturday Schools as well as the Winter Schools were discontinued at the end of 1989 as a result of the re-focusing of the Centre's activities on teacher training. However teachers who were involved in INSET workshops and the Subject Interest Groups were encouraged to run their own MEPP programmes.
REGIONAL RESOURCE NETWORK
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During 1987 four regional resource centres - Kwambonambi, Newcastle, Ladysmith and Greytown - were established with a view to making the Centre's educational services available to as large an area as the financial resources of the Trust would allow.
During 1989 a fifth centre was established at Port Shepstone.
The siting of the centres allowed both urban and rural communities to be reached.
These regional offices serve as resource centres, administration centres for the various programmes and as a venue for meetings.
Resources available include subject materials, videos, books, models and lab kits.
It was decided from the outset that the teacher communities themselves would become the driving force behind each centre. To this end subject committees were elected, as well as an Action Committee, which would be responsible for running the centre and planning the various programmes.
The Action Committee comprised the chairperson of each subject committee plus the circuit inspector.
In order to integrate the work between the various communities and the resource centres, Stan Hardman was appointed as Field Unit Liaison Manager.
LABORATORY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
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The Laboratory Development Project focussed on the organisation and management of school Science facilities and apparatus for carrying out practical work. The aim of the project was to increase the number of practical activities carried out in the Science curricula of the 40 DET schools in the region.
The project was jointly initiated in April 1988 by the Shell Science Centre and the Physical Science subject advisory service of the DET.
It was felt by both parties that the very poor science results being produced by these schools might improve if the amount of practical work were increased. The programme would achieve this by more effectively organising, managing and utilising the resources available in the schools.
Observations were that in many schools the resources which did exist (equipment, glassware and chemicals), although limited, were not being used at all. There was also equipment which was in need of only minor repairs.
It was also felt that teachers were not highly motivated to do practical work.
Tom O'Neill, who was seconded from the DET to the Centre to work on the project, worked with 40 DET high schools in the region in the first year of the project.
However it soon became clear that the amount of time he was able to spend at each school would not be sufficient to achieve the objectives of the project, so the following year it was decided that he would concentrate on the 15 most needy schools.
The work area included repair of broken equipment, demonstrating correct use of unfamiliar apparatus, transfer of surplus or redundant equipment to other schools, encouraging the improvisation of resources, improving the system of equipment and chemical ordering, and devising and encouraging systems of stock-taking and stock maintenance in school Science rooms.
The Science teachers who received support acquired both enhanced teaching skills and personal professional development as a result of the programme.
This programme was further refined and later became known as the School Science Project.
EDUCATORS GET ORGANISED
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The Centre has been instrumental in the establishment of two organisations which have contributed to the enhancement of teacher training, namely the Association of Science Teacher Educators (ASTE) and the Association of Maths Teacher Educators in KwaZulu/Natal (AMTEK).
Association of Science Teacher Educators
The lack of communication and co-operation among Science educators involved in teacher training was a cause of concern among Centre staff, who felt there was a need for an association to support their professional development.
Consequently Paul Hobden initiated a seminar in 1986 in conjunction with the Urban Foundation and the Science Education Project as a first step towards establishing such an organisation.
Overall reaction was positive and 27 participants representing teacher training institutions in Natal/KwaZulu attended the seminar. This led to the formal establishment of ASTE in 1987.
Its aims were to meet the needs and assist in the professional development of members. It sought to do this in three ways:-
- facilitate communication between members.
- organise regional gatherings
- share, co-ordinate and develop resources.
The central activities of the organisation consist of 2-4 annual workshops and seminars, held at one of the participating colleges or institutions, and attended by between 30-50 Science educators.
The Association has developed into a fully professional body with over 100 members, and moves are currently taking place to establish a national association.
Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators in KwaZulu/Natal
The Centre's Mathematics co-ordinators Dexter Luthuli and Phil Ntenza initiated moves to establish AMTEK in 1989 to promote the professional development of educators involved in the training of Mathematics teachers.
The association's membership is drawn from colleges of education and universities and from subject advisors from all education departments active in the region.
The members hold regular conferences and workshops where they share ideas and explore ways of enhancing the training of Mathematics teachers.
DEMOCRATIC CLIMATE & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
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According to the Centre's first director, Dr Phillip Botha, the philosophy of the Shell Science Centre had always emphasised the importance of creating a democratic climate in which the staff members as well as tutors were given the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.
Also, the students and the teachers were encouraged to express their views, and to challenge each other and their tutors.
This democratic ethos was extended to other stakeholders of the programme. The support of the community is of great value and the Centre could not have been able to operate in urban and rural locations, far away from its central office, without the involvement and support of the communities involved.
Thus the Centre staff deliberately established close contacts with the communities which serve as catchment areas for the educational programmes. The aim of these contacts was to avoid alienation and to establish confidence in the work of the Centre. Community support was necessary when recruiting students for Centre programmes.
In 1988 the Centre strengthened these links by establishing three joint projects with community organisations in the Durban area, namely: adult education programmes, leadership training for youth and community facilitators, and establishing and monitoring science education curriculum programmes in community pre-schools.
During the year there were education programmes for adults and youth held at three different venues, on issues selected by the communities themselves.
Typically the programmes consisted of a lecture followed by discussion workshops. The Centre recruited suitable lecturers, helped to plan the programme and provided the facilities.
The Leadership Seminars assisted leaders of community organisations to increase their capabilities in responding to the needs of their members.
The seminars consisted of an introductory course of 2-3 days, and a follow-up seminar some four months later. The programme had two components: management skills and principles of leadership.
The third community-based activity was to provide support for community kindergartens in the teaching of basic Science and number concepts to children, in the form of in-service training for the pre-school teachers.
The project involved six pre-school institutions represented by 12 teachers of the five-year-old age group.
The emphasis was on readiness for grasping Science and number concepts. Teachers were introduced to strategies using specially prepared materials and shown how to create enjoyable, constructive learning experiences for children.
REVIEW & CHANGE
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1990 saw considerable changes taking place at the Centre. During the year Dr Botha resigned, and Terry McCulloch, who, as a member of the Shell Board had been involved in the establishment of the Centre, and who was also a Trustee, took over as Interim Director.
After five years in operation, the Trustees felt that a comprehensive review of the Centre's activities was needed. This was undertaken under the chairmanship of Trustee, Professor M.C. Mehl.
One of the recommendations of the review was the need to set up a committee to improve communication between the various stakeholders, and to provide a more effective link between the Centre and the Trustees.
The Co-ordinating Committee comprised representatives from the Board of Trustees, the sponsors (Shell), the Centre, the University and the teachers involved in the Centre's programmes. Terry McCulloch was appointed Chairman.
The Committee meets regularly and has continued to play an important role in considering new ideas and evaluating projects, dealing with practical issues and providing an effective forum for discussion and interaction between the stakeholders.
Another recommendation of the Mehl review was to keep the Centre's activities more focussed on INSET.
As a result of this review, there were a number of significant changes introduced.
It was decided that the model operating within the Centre needed to be more focussed and expert driven. For this reason the control of activities became seen as the direct responsibility of Centre staff rather than the teacher communities.
Thus the Action Committees, which were effectively running the regional resource centres, were disbanded and the staff took over control of activities.
Secondly, a decision was made to discontinue the Curriculum Extension Programme as it was proving to be too costly and time-consuming. The Youth Leadership courses and Pre-School courses were also dropped.
The emphasis of the Centre's activities consequently shifted from the students to teachers, as it was felt that this would have a bigger impact due to the multiplier effect, and because of the logistical problems in dealing with large numbers of students. This effectively brought the Centre's focus back into line with its original mission.
This phase also saw the scope of the Centre's work limited to Physical Science, Maths and Biology. English as a separate programme was discontinued as it was felt that the learning of language skills was an integral part of all existing programmes run by the Centre anyway.
During this period, the Management Training Programme was also revamped and replaced by the Organisational Development Programme, which focused on school principals and aimed to help them develop a conducive learning environment for teachers within the schools. It was initiated and run by Stan Hardman as an extension of the liaison work of the Centre.
Starting in 1991, meetings and workshops were held with school principals, deputies and heads of departments which considered such issues as staff development and improving Maths and Science education within the schools.
The programme was designed to produce a conducive environment within schools for teachers who attend courses offered by the Centre, and includes elements of self-development as well as school development. Participants are encouraged to develop lateral models of leadership in their schools which involves shared vision, where the principal and staff take joint ownership of their staff development.
Some 120 principals participate in the programme every year.
EXPANSION & GROWTH
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In April 1991 Terry McCulloch made way for the appointment of Dr John Volmink as the Centre's director.
McCulloch, who had brought a strong "business" perspective to the Centre and was instrumental in focusing its activities, continued his close involvement as a Trustee and as Chairman of the Co-ordinating Committee.
Dr Volmink, an experienced educationist, is a former Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at Cornell University in the US and has worked at the Universities of Cape Town and the Western Cape, and in Botswana.
Under Dr Volmink's directorship the Centre moved into a growth phase both in terms of its activities and its sphere of influence.
At the same time teacher leadership increasingly became the focal point of the project.
In order to create a supportive environment for the teachers to operate in, the school-based programmes and the course-based programmes were strengthened. Thus the Computers in Schools project and the Laboratory Development Project became more prominent components of the Centre's activities, as did the development of teaching material.
Formal diploma courses were introduced to reinforce the INSET workshops and to enable teachers to upgrade their qualifications.
The Board of Trustees, realising that the Centre needed to expand and grow if it was to fulfil its enormous potential, took a decision to look for additional funding outside of Shell.
At the same time it was deemed necessary to rename the project to reflect the changing environment within which it was operating. Henceforth it became known as the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Maths Education (CASME).
Although Shell continued its involvement as a major sponsor, the Independent Development Trust, Eskom and US AID came in as additional sponsors.
TEACHER UPGRADING IN SCIENCE & MATHEMATICS
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The primary target group for INSET remained teachers at Standard 9 and 10 levels, although an INSET programme for Mathematics teachers at junior secondary level in the Umbumbulu circuit was introduced by Dennis Msomi in 1992.
An average of 750 teachers were participating in INSET programmes which were being run from seven centres each year (Durban, Empangeni, Greytown, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Pietermaritzburg and Port Shepstone).
Dr Volmink notes in the 1991 Annual Report that the 1990 DET matric results in KwaZulu-Natal for Mathematics and Physical Science were significantly better than the national results.
Physical Science results were as follows:-
Wrote HG: Passed HG - National: 19,5% - Natal: 36,2%
Wrote SG and Passed - National: 27,5% - Natal: 39,3%
Overall Pass - National: 47,1% - Natal: 55,7%
Mathematics results displayed a similar pattern.
"CASME believes that although it cannot claim sole credit for this improvement, it is nevertheless beyond dispute that the Centre's efforts have impacted significantly on the quality of Mathematics and Science teaching and learning in black schools in Natal/KwaZulu," commented Dr Volmink.
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In order to enhance the professional development of teachers, CASME developed a formal in-service qualification for Physical Science teachers, known as the Further Diploma in Education (FDE). Work on the FDE began in 1990, with the first student intake in 1991.
The introduction of the course was motivated by the fact that teachers who were involved with the INSET programme wanted a formal certificate as recognition for upgrading their professional skills, and because the Centre's staff felt that the discipline and structure of a formal course was important for teachers' professional development.
"We were experiencing problems with teachers' erratic attendance of INSET workshops, and we felt that going through a carefully planned learning experience would boost their confidence as teachers," reported Paul Hobden.
The FDE is a two year part-time course consisting of two-week contact periods each year, with numerous assignments in-between and an end-of-year examination.
Rural teachers can be accommodated as residence facilities are available.
The focus of the FDEs is on additional context knowledge beyond that required by the matriculation syllabus, conceptual understanding of the subject, understanding how learning takes place, and the application of contextual knowledge in a learning environment.
The first FDE Physical Science programme began in 1991 with an enrolment of 36 teachers, 25 of whom successfully completed the two-year course.
There were not sufficient applications to run the programme in 1993, but 1994 saw the start of another two-year programme.
An FDE in Biology was approved in 1992, and was scheduled for its first teacher intake in 1994.
Commented Science National Co-ordinator, Paul Hobden, in the 1991 Annual Report: "I feel that this course (FDE) can form the basis of a professional development plan for teachers. It appears that teachers who are unable to cope with the school content are not interested in issues other than content issues. Perhaps that could explain (erratic) attendance patterns at our INSET workshops. The FDE course takes underqualified teachers through that stage/barrier, making them confident as teachers. I am convinced we will see our other professional development initiatives grow exponentially once these teachers join the mainstream of activities again, and are no longer restrained by content related issues."
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The development of materials for use in the various programmes had been a part of the Centre's activities from the beginning. However the materials were never designed to be used by others, and therefore they had a restricted use.
But it became increasingly obvious that there was a need to make the materials more accessible to teachers and other training organisations both regionally and nationally. In order to do this, it was necessary to get teachers more involved in the development of the materials, and to get a common approach between the three subject teams.
For the above reasons, and because of the increasing work loads on subject teams, a decision was made to establish a unit that would be solely responsible for the development of materials.
During 1992, additional funding made the establishment of a Materials Development Unit possible. Gill Browne was appointed Materials Co-ordinator.
The materials being developed by the Unit include:-
- Informal workshop material.
- Formal FDE material.
- Classroom material developed to support teachers.
- Material developed with teachers to assist and encourage them to adapt and develop their own materials.
- Assessment material.
- Past examination papers with teaching memoranda.
- "Beyond the classroom." This is material that covers specific topics related to the syllabus, but which provide a broader perspective.
- Posters which illustrate aspects of the syllabus, and pocket-size tables.
All materials developed by the MDU are currently available to teachers through the seven resource centres, but efforts are being made to market and distribute them to a wider group of teachers.
COMPUTERS IN SCHOOLS PROGRAMME
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In the mid-80s the Human Sciences Research Council was involved in running a national programme to introduce computers to schools. Initially staff at the Centre became involved in the programme at the request of the HSRC.
When the HSRC programme started losing momentum in 1989, the Centre decided to establish its own programme and managed to persuade the HSRC to donate their computers which were already installed in four schools in the Natal/KwaZulu region.
The aim of the project was to involve teachers in setting up computerised administration systems as a first step towards the computer being applied to education.
The programme was initially run by Science Co-ordinator Paul Hobden with assistance from a Unilever staff member who was involved with the project, and part-time university students.
Four schools took part: Ogwini Secondary, Mqhawe Secondary, Sacred Heart Secondary and Adams College of Education. Umlazi Commercial High joined the project later.
All the schools were given an administration software package, which is used to enter and store class lists and marks, and print selected reports, as well as a word processing package.
For the most part the project was enthusiastically received by teachers and principals, though a number of problems were experienced.
Umlazi Commercial High School was progressing well with the project until the school was burgled and the computers stolen. The school could not guarantee the safety of the computers, as it had been burgled on a number of occasions previously, and the Centre was forced to suspend operations until the security of the computers could be assured.
The project faced numerous problems at Mqhawe High School, such as disruptions as a result of violence, frequent electricity cuts and severe staff shortages.
The project was driven by a teacher, Patrick Buthelezi, who left the school at the end of 1991, requiring a new teacher to be trained from scratch.
Sacred Heart Secondary School is one of the successes of the project. It fulfilled all expectations and goals set out by the CISP team. The computers were used to produce test papers, examination papers, letters and reports. The word processing facilities were used extensively for this purpose.
Two thirds of the staff used the computers for their typing, and all teachers were trained in the use of the word processing and graphics package.
A smaller number of teachers used the administration software, though most of the data at the school had been captured to produce class lists.
In mid-1992 a full-time co-ordinator, Nadia Davids, was appointed, and a thorough review of the project was undertaken.
It was found that the project was possibly a little over-ambitious and unfocused in the sense that the teachers who had become involved were not necessarily Maths and Science teachers.
It was also found that off-site training was given without adequate on-site support, and in some cases, teachers from schools without equipment were given training.
As a result a decision was taken to concentrate on involving Maths and Science teachers in the project, so that they could use the computer for material development and administrative functions related to their subjects.
This process has enabled the project co-ordinator to identify teachers to become involved in investigating and researching models for using computers more directly in the teaching and learning of Maths and Science.
Two models are under investigation currently. The first of these has been in place since the beginning of 1993 and involves using a bank of 12 networked computers in the remedial teaching of Maths. This project has by and large proved successful and will possibly be expanded into investigating the use of the site as a teacher training facility as well as a remedial Mathematics centre for surrounding schools.
The second of these models has just started (1994), and involves investigating the use of a dedicated computer in a classroom. Three pilot sites have been identified, one each for Maths, Physical Science and Biology.
Over and above the two models the project staff continue to offer training as well as regular support to schools.
SCHOOL SCIENCE PROJECT
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This was originally known as the Laboratory Development Project which started out in 1988 by assisting teachers at 40 DET schools with lab equipment and practical work.
However as the project progressed a number of changes became necessary. Firstly, the Centre's resources were insufficient to provide the intensive support that teachers required at all 40 schools. Hence the number of focus schools receiving intensive, weekly support from project staff was reduced to 15, and then to five, while another 17 non-focus schools were receiving occasional support. In theory a school would receive one year of intensive support, and thereafter would require only occasional support.
Secondly, it became clear that the teachers of focus schools required much more than support for just the practical aspects of their syllabus.
Commented co-ordinator Tom O'Neill in the 1991 Annual Report: "What has become clear in the work of this Project, is that one can't simply separate the facilitation of practical work from other areas of teachers support ... My view now is that a teacher is actually at a relatively advanced stage if he/she merely needs technical support."
Consequently the support provided by the Project staff was considerably broadened over the forthcoming months, though the emphasis on encouraging and facilitating practical work was maintained.
In line with these developments, the name of the Project was changed at the end of 1992 to the School Science Project.
Also in that year an agreement was reached with the British-based Link Africa group to have two of their field workers assigned to a number of schools in the Umbumbulu and Umzinto areas, to offer support based on the model developed by the Centre.
Annual Science-Room Awards were also initiated by the Project staff to encourage schools to develop Science rooms which enhance the learning experience of pupils.
All LDP schools were encouraged to enter this competition, which continues to be popular. A marked improvement of school Science rooms has been observed, especially in those schools that have participated in the competition.
Dr Ebun Sawyerr was appointed the new co-ordinator towards the end of 1993.
A number of Project teams are now operating in Cleremont, the Greater Durban area, in Umbumbulu/Umzinto and in the Bergville area.
SCIENCE MATRIC INCENTIVE SCHEME
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A Matric Incentive Scheme was introduced in 1992 to provide recognition and encouragement to all those teachers who are working hard to help their students get through the matric Physical Science examination, despite the enormous difficulties in DET and KwaZulu DEC schools.
This scheme provided some continuity with the Curriculum Extension Programme, which was discontinued in 1990, as it focussed on student performance in the matric exam.
Exam results for 1991 and 1992 from 40 schools were considered, and ten schools received awards for their achievements. The awards were based on improvements in results, with consideration given to factors such as size of classes.
The group of winning schools featured some of the traditionally more successful schools, but was dominated by less well resourced township and rural schools.
Most of the teachers at the winning schools have participated in the Centre's programmes at one time or another.
SUBJECT INTEREST GROUPS
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The involvement of the teachers in running the regional resource centres, which had been interrupted by the disbanding of the Action Committees in 1990, was re-introduced in 1992 with the establishment of Subject Interest Groups.
These groups work through the Centre's full-time staff and are responsible for planning programmes and running the regional centres. They get annual budget allocations and are encouraged to initiate their own projects.
As was the case with the Action Committees, the rationale behind the SIGs is to encourage teachers to take responsibility for their own professional development.
In 1993 there were 13 SIGs operating from the various resource centres. Their effectiveness varies from one group to the next, and depends to a large extent on the leadership and levels of enthusiasm within the group.
The Maphumulo group is an example of a highly motivated SIG. In mid-1993 they got together all the teachers in the circuit to set the matriculation trial examination, and marked the papers together.
This effort on the part of teachers was reflected in the matriculation results for the area.
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Constant evaluation has been a feature of the Centre since its establishment in order to effect improvements in programmes and to ensure that they were meeting the needs of the target group and achieving the goals set out by the Trust.
In addition to outside, independent evaluations conducted on a project basis, Vijay Reddy was appointed in 1993 specifically to build Casme's internal evaluation capacity.
Thus the Centre's activities and interventions have evolved and changed as a consequence of these evaluations, and in order to adapt to changing circumstances on the ground.
The staff complement has grown from four in 1985 to 41 in mid-1994, and the range of activities has expanded considerably. This has meant that an ever-increasing number of pupils, teachers, principals and administrators are directly involved in the programmes, with a growing impact on Science and Maths education in the region.
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CASME continues to forge links with educators at a national level to promote and improve Science and Maths education wherever possible.
In addition to its role in the Association of Science Teacher Educators and the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, CASME staff were actively involved in the establishment of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education (SAARMSE) in 1992. CASME staff helped to organise the first annual meeting of the association at Rhodes University in 1993, and has provided the secretariat function for the association since its establishment.
SAARMSE aims to promote Mathematics and Science education research regionally, nationally and internationally, and to create a context of discourse among Science and Maths college educators and teachers.
CASME has also been involved in organising a national forum on the issue of assessment. These forums are arranged annually and bring together examiners, monitors and educators to exchange ideas and experiences.
Another national project in which CASME is involved is the 1000 Schools Project which was launched early in 1993 after the major NGOs involved in education got together to co-ordinate their efforts. CASME staff were instrumental in initiating the project and are involved in a co-ordination capacity in the KwaZulu-Natal region.
The project seeks to integrate the programmes of several leading NGOs operating in primary and secondary black schools. By so doing it is hoped that collectively they will make a bigger impact on the quality of education.
RECONSTRUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
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With the adoption of a new constitution and the election of a Government of National Unity in April 1994, a decision was taken by CASME staff that the focus of the Centre's activities should be a part of national reconstruction. This did not signal a change of direction so much as an affirmation of what CASME has been working towards since its establishment in 1985; and that is improving the quality of Science and Maths education in KwaZulu-Natal schools, and in the process addressing the deficiencies and lack of opportunities inherent in the apartheid education system, the legacy of which still persists.
However the political changes did open the door for CASME to become a national project with a growing capacity to influence the transformation process, and to impact on the quality of instruction in Science and Mathematics at a national level.
Strategic plans are therefore focussed on four main integrated projects:
The first is to continue developing a national support system, both in terms of people development and infrastructure, for the professional development of Science and Mathematics teachers.
This resulted in the introduction of a formalised Teacher Leadership Course, and the establishment of additional regional resource centres in Kroonstad in the OFS and Witbank in the Eastern Transvaal during the year. Plans are in place to further expand the network, which is now linked by modem to the Head Office in Durban, into other regions of the country.
The second is to work intensively in school focussed work, including the Computers In Schools and the School Science Projects.
And thirdly, to develop further FDE programmes for underqualified teachers. FDE's that are currently being investigated include Mathematics; Science, Technology and Society; Leadership and Science Education; and Guidance in Science and Technology-Related Careers.
There are also plans to increase the number of Science and Mathematics teachers available to secondary schools by re-training humanities teachers.
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The emphasis on teacher leadership is increasingly becoming a key component of CASME's activities. The objective is to generate a pool of teacher leaders who have the skills, resources and motivation to take responsibility for the continuing education of Science and Mathematics teachers, and to play a role as subject advisers within a new national education department.
The first formalised Teacher Leadership Course was held at Michaelhouse school in Balgowan in July 1994. The 45 candidates were carefully selected on the basis of their experience and their participation in INSET workshops.
The two-week July programme is designed to provide the teachers with the skills to plan, manage and run INSET workshops. It includes a look at methodologies, skills training in basic computer literacy, how to use CASME resource centres and other practical skills.
After completing the initial two-week programme, the teachers return to their schools where they are required to organise and run two INSET workshops for teachers in their areas. These workshops are assessed by CASME's Subject Advisers.
The following year the teachers will return to Michaelhouse for a one-week programme to consolidate their training, after which they receive certificates.
CASME is negotiating with the education authorities in an effort to have these certificates recognised by the relevant department.
Commented programme leader, Nadia Davids: "We feel that there is a need for in-service training of teachers to continue during the course of their service, and that it should be the responsibility of the education department. Our intention is that the teacher leaders who have successfully completed this programme should be utilised to manage this process," she said.
Said Dr Volmink: "As CASME puts more energy into driving the formal courses, the INSET workshops will increasingly be driven by teachers themselves who can call on CASME staff as consultants.
"We want to build the capacity of teachers so that they can assume leadership in Science and Maths education. We need to move away from a dependency model to capacity building. Our job is to do what the state education system cannot do, and that is to build the capacity of teachers and educationists to take responsibility for their own professional development."
A SUSTAINABLE MODEL
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By building the capacity of teachers through leadership training, FDE's and INSET workshops on the one hand, and by nurturing a conducive learning environment and making resources available on the other, CASME has developed a model for the improvement of Science and Mathematics education that is both sustainable and dynamic.
At the same time the growing network of Regional Resource Centres means a widening impact on Mathematics and Science education, beyond the borders of KwaZulu-Natal.
Thus CASME has the infrastructure, the skills and the experience, to play a significant role in rebuilding a new education system that is based on continuous improvement and equal opportunities.
The political obstacles to such a system may have been removed, but the challenges that lie ahead are still formidable. The "new" South Africa demands a rapid increase in the number of highly skilled technologists, engineers and scientists. Demographic realities demand that they be drawn primarily from the black community.
In a sense, therefore, CASME's work has only just begun.