Rationale and Purpose
The quality of maths and science education in South Africa has long been a cause of concern to education stakeholders. Internationally, our learners are consistently placed at the bottom end of achievement in various assessments. Here at home the National Senior Certificate results in the two subjects are poor; the numbers of those eligible to study further and pursue professions requiring these skills are low, thereby affecting economic growth.
Recognition of this crisis forms the rationale for BRIDGE’s Maths and Science Learner Support Community of Practice. Its aim is to bring together programme implementers and key investors supporting learners, teachers and schools in Maths and Science. By providing a forum for collaboration, we can maximise the collective efforts made by those whose work impacts on the number and quality of Maths and Science graduates in the country.
The main Community of Practice meets on a regular basis to collaborate and to share knowledge. These meetings generate activity in smaller action groups, which take particular issues forward. Current action areas are as follows:
- The Tertiary Access Focus Group considers issues relating to post-school opportunities and pathways. One example of significant achievement has been the mapping of post-school access through what is currently called ‘The Tertiary Access Chain’. This systems map has influenced ways of thinking about career information repositories and career guidance in various sectors, including government. Another example has been the sharing of information and collaboration around bursary opportunities.
- The Monitoring and Evaluation focus group focuses on sharing learnings about monitoring and evaluation models and trends. A recent highlight has been increased understanding of the uses and benefits of developmental monitoring and evaluation approaches to maths and science learner support projects.
- The Teacher Development focus group shares information on trends, learnings and initiatives related to teacher development and teacher training. A recent highlight has been increased understanding of alternative routes to teacher development.
- The work of these action groups is brought back to the main Maths and Science community, and integrated into its thinking and activities.
Link to the BRIDGE Knowledge Hub for meeting highlights, presentations, tools and documented working practice from this Community.
BRIDGE’s Maths and Science Learner Support Community of Practice was established in 2010, and has maintained a structured cycle of quarterly community meetings and quarterly action group meetings since then. As at year end 2014, over 75 meetings have been held.
Two other action groups in this community of practice have completed their work:
- The Learner selection focus group compared strategies for selecting learners for maths and science interventions. A comparison of pre-selected learner groups and non-selected learner groups concluded that improvement in learner performance results more from learner commitment and motivation than from careful selection.
- The Saturday School focus group investigated a range of after-hours learner support initiatives and documented what worked and what didn’t work in the implementation of these interventions.
Link to the BRIDGE Knowledge Hub for the work products from these two groups.
If you are interested in joining this Community of Practice and collaborating with people involved in supporting efforts to improve maths and science, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
My involvement with Bridge on the Post-school Access Chain has been very stimulating. I am particularly impressed by the way in which you manage to keep a diverse group of key stakeholders actively involved in freely sharing their expertise in innovative engagements – over long periods and without any remuneration. The contributions of this particular Community of Practice is creating a vital resource for guiding students to move from school into the component of the post-school system that is most appropriate for their learning needs and career aspirations.