Masakh’iSizwe students enter into the spirit of nation building

22 February 2008

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LAST year, a group of Matric pupils from Rocklands Senior Secondary School in Mitchells Plain were drawn into a Department of Transport and Public Works intervention known as “Masakh’iSizwe”.

Central to what quickly developed into a mutually beneficial partnership for all was a group of engineering students tutoring the school’s higher grade learners in Maths.

“The aim was to encourage our learners to love Maths – and to help them improve their grades,” said Rocklands Senior Secondary principal MW Gasant.

“And it worked very well. The Matric results, which were announced in December 2007, said much about the effectiveness of the school’s Maths learning partnership with Masakh’iSizwe (and a few others),” he added.

The average mark of our higher grade Maths learners increased from 33 percent to just over 50 percent. And although this may not seem a lot, we view it as something to build on – and that is why we are extremely happy that the partnership with Masakh’iSizwe will be resumed in the second quarter of this school year.”

Mr Gasant said he shared the view of other educators, business people and government officials that young people – starting at primary school level – should be encouraged to become proficient at Maths and Physical Science.

“Far too many learners are dropping Maths and Physics too easily from their list of preferred subjects,” he said.

“From our side, we will be phasing out Maths literacy as a subject – and start encouraging all our students to take pure Maths instead.”

Transport and Public Works MEC Marius Fransman was understandably chuffed with the success of the Masakhi’iSizwe partnership with Rocklands Senior Secondary (and a number of other Western Cape Schools).

The Masakh’iSizwe concept was his idea.

A isiXhosa term that translates as “Let’s Build the Nation”, the Masakh’iSizwe Centre of Excellence offers bursaries to students working towards degrees or national diplomas in engineering, property management, quantity and land surveying, and architecture, among others (in other words, scarce skills).

But there is more to it than that….

The credo of the centre is based on the belief that “what you get out of life is directly connected to how much you are prepared to put into it.

So in return for the support they get from government, the bursary recipients are expected to put something back into (usually) under-resourced schools located in poor communities. In this instance, students offered to pass on some of their Maths skills to learners at Rocklands Senior Secondary.

“The provision of Mathematics tutorials by our students – at schools identified by the provincial Department of Education – is something I’m extremely proud of,” said Fransman.

“Our students proved to be more than efficient tutors – and ambassadors for Maths,” he added.

“It is an arrangement that I believe will lead to more opportunities for learners at historically disadvantaged schools and communities to study at a higher level.”

Two weeks ago, MEC Fransman hosted a media breakfast at which 69 engineering graduates were introduced to the press. Masakh’iSizwe is regarded as an important response by the Western Cape government to the challenge of scarce skills in the province.


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