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Jan 15, 2010

Firms team up in maths, science and engineering drive

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Human capital investment company Infundo Consulting, engineering technology company Bentley Systems Incorporated and the Royal Netherlands Embassy have partnered to enhance mathe-matics and science teaching skills in South Africa through an elearning computer-aided design (Elcad) programme which offers a train-the-trainer course starting this month.

The education project, which is funded by the Dutch embassy, involves bringing two Austrian master trainers and the developers of Elcad, Dr Guenter Maresch and Dr Andreas Asperl, to train 30 teacher trainers for a week in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

Infundo Consulting director Charmaine Smith says that the 30 trainers will be trained in the complete mapped-out Elcad programme, the platform it uses, as well as in the methodology to teach the programme. These trainers will, in turn, train other teachers, who will pass on the programme to their learners.

“This programme has been in existence for 11 years in Austria and the European Union and has produced great results. “The desired outcome is to bring an experienced programme to South Africa to take learners to the next level and improve the skills levels of the country,” says Bentley Empowered Careers Network global director Scott Lofgren.

The trainers have been asked to identify learning centres, such as schools, academic and private institutions and education centres, such as the Sci-Bono Discovery centre, in Newtown, Johannesburg, where the programme will be rolled out during 2010.

The bulk of the funding and seats have been assigned to KZN learning centres, as the Dutch embassy has already funded education centres in the province. Twenty of the 30 seats will be given to trainers from KZN and ten seats will be given to trainers from the rest of the country.

Smith says that the Elcad programme is designed to enable learners to acquire better technical and maths skills, as well as become ready for the workplace equipped with inter- personal communication, creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

Lofgren says that it is important that the programme provides South African learners with the chance to become engineers by promoting a good foundation in mathematics and science at school. It will also ensure that learners learn independently and reflect on their own learning process.

The KZN Department of Education has looked at the Elcad programme and materials and established that they tie up with the existing computer-aided design or engineering graphic design subject curriculum at schools. Smith says the education programme allows learners to use engineering industry software, which will connect learners to real-life engineering projects. This software will be supplied to learning centres and schools that may not have had access to it in the past.

She concludes that South Africa is privileged to have the Elcad programme, as it will provide learners with a taste of engineering and promote the profession through fun activities and assignments.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
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