More than 1 000 learners from across Ehlanzeni district of Mbombela municipality, eager to learn more about science, made their way to Penreach, an NGO which focusses on developing teacher and school leadership capacity from early childhood to high school.
2016 Marks the 10th year this NGO participated in National Science Week – an initiative instituted by the Department of Science and Technology. Science Week aims to stimulate interest in science as a subject of study and also promote science and technology careers in general by exposing scholars to a wide variety of science based activities.
As a catalyst for high quality education in disadvantaged communities, Penreach supports the work of the Department of Basic Education, and believes taking part in practical learning is vital for children of all ages.
“Teaching and learning is not something that should be confined to the classroom,” says Mr. Bailey Nkuna, Director of Teaching and Learning at Penreach.
“Learners must establish the relevance of the Maths and Science they learn in the classroom and make it applicable to what they see happening in the environment”, he explained. “It is only then that learners see the value of pursuing Science, Maths, Technology and Engineering careers when they complete grade 12.
But according to Nkuna, this realization is often too little too late.
“Science should not only be emphasised in high schools alone, but should be prioritised from as early as the early childhood (ECD) phase. Following a pipeline approach shows us that the effective way of developing children is to nurture them from ECD progressively across the grades in order to eliminate learning barriers when they enter the high school phase”.
And according to Nkuna the more support children and teachers can get the better. Penreach is therefor also actively involved in the development of teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge in Maths, Science and Technology (MST), regularly conducting career guidance sessions to ignite learners’ passion in MST and is currently the only NGO in Mpumalanga to make use of several mobile science laboratories. These laboratories primarily attempts to close the knowledge gap between primary and secondary education and at the same time allow children to understand the deeper meaning of science concepts by means of doing experiments in order to move away from only memorising content for the sake of writing examinations.
Grade 10-12 learners also took part in career guidance talks where corporates presented on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics related careers. The learners were taken through different career options in Health Sciences and the property sector including subject requirements and bursary opportunities available.
Dr. Abbey Mdluli of the District Education Head Office applauded Penreach on the successful execution on all the activities during Science Week and said he was proud of the good work Penreach is doing.