A nationwide need for improved curriculum delivery in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) education in primary and secondary schools, which skills and enterprise development organisation ORT South Africa (ORT SA) has responded to, will see more pupils studying engineering-related qualifications, says the organisation.
ORT SA aims to address the Stem challenges that schools in previously disadvantaged areas face by providing school training, mentorship and practical activities for teachers and pupils to improve the way in which these subjects are taught.
“Promoting quality teaching of Stem subjects in previously disadvantaged areas, such as Soweto and Alexandra, by exposing pupils to new technologies and twenty-first-century thinking skills, presents an opportunity for pupils to challenge themselves and unlock their hidden . . . potential,” says ORT SA CEO Ariellah Rosenberg.
She explains that the training and skills development initiatives of ORT SA are based on a problem-based learning approach that allows for a better understanding of Stem subjects among teachers and pupils.
Rosenberg points out that one of ORT’s programmes involves robotics and coding training, which enables pupils to participate by building robots from different materials and then coding them to perform specific functions. This training incorporates all the Stem subjects, enabling pupils to engage with the subjects in challenging, meaningful and fun ways.
Rosenberg notes that one of the benefits of such programmes is that the training and mentoring by ORT SA takes place at a school, which is a familiar environment for teachers and pupils. It enables teachers to incorporate stimulating ways to present Stem subjects and motivate pupils towards those subjects as a career choice.
Further, she asserts that ORT SA also provides post-matric pupils with the opportunity to better their results through the one-year Second Chance programme. The programme is available to pupils who have written matric in the past and failed mathematics and science, she explains.
“The Second Chance programme offers expert teaching in matric mathematics and science to enable participants to rewrite these subjects to qualify for university entrance.”
Rosenberg concludes that the programme also equips pupils with basic computer skills and work readiness to prepare them for a possible career in Stem-centred careers.