Eastern Cape education is on the rise

The National Education Collaboration Trust’s (NECT) interventions have taken the Eastern Cape by storm – focussing on everything from exam readiness to high-tech education interventions with a view to elevate a province in need of better results.

Earlier this year, MEC for Education in the Eastern Cape Mandla Makupula said that a lack of resources and poor infrastructure should not exclude Eastern Cape learners from quality education. This statement came on the heels of the fact that this province, as a rule, scores the lowest matric results in the country. The NECT has engaged with the province and taken stock of their challenges to find meaningful ways to mitigate obstacles to improved learner performance.

The NECT has launched targeted interventions in their Fresh Start Schools (FSS) in an effort to impact on the province’s educational performance as a whole and raise Eastern Cape education to new heights.

Interventions in these FSS range from NECT Change Agents preparing learners for exams, to deploying School-Based Support Teams, mobile science labs and injecting the province with high-tech interventions in the form of telematics centres.

Interventions in the classroom

Exam readiness programmes are crucial in improving overall year-end results in the province. The NECT has, therefore, been active in preparing learners for their exams in an ongoing effort to boost results and in a continuous quest to professionalise teaching.

 To achieve these dual objectives, NECT Change Agents conducted interactive lessons with learning aids on hand and helped teachers deliver their lessons. What is more is that this intervention is yielding tangible results in the classroom. Physics teacher at Huku Primary School, Zwelandile Mgoqi said: “The NECT is very helpful to me and my school because while I can teach and revise, the NECT is able to give practical examples that go a long way in developing learners’ understanding of complex subjects.”

In addition to preparing learners for their upcoming exams, the NECT has identified a need to put learner welfare first, and find ways to ensure that learners are both educationally and psychologically taken care of. To achieve this, the NECT launched their School-Based Support Team (SBST) in Mount Frere, which is a learner support structure that investigates the psychological and social welfare challenges facing learners. Fifteen SBTSs have been established in the district and are yielding results, with more schools set to get Support Teams. NECT Psycho-social Specialist, Sparta Zantsi remarks that: “These SBTSs are a reflection of the NECT’s commitment to changing the conditions under which learners learn.”

EC education gets high-tech

The NECT, in partnership with Sasol, has launched a mobile science laboratory to service 100 schools in the Mount Frere and Libode districts. This is done in a bid to provide crucial resources and aid teachers in preparing students with the ultimate goal of improving education outcomes.

The lab will travel to schools on a daily basis and conduct hands-on experiments with learners and teachers. The mobile lab will go a long way in making lessons fun, interactive and easier to understand – bolstering subject knowledge and cultivating a real interest in the subject matter. This intervention performs two critical functions:  training teachers by familiarising them with practical classroom science skills and aid learners to achieve their full potential in the subject. The mobile lab sessions are facilitated by an NECT-trained team with the assistance of host-school teachers.

In addition to the lab, the Eastern Cape is home to e-Learning in the form of 10 telematics centres, five in Libode and five in Mount Frere. A potential 11 650 learners are set to benefit from these centres.

 It was envisioned that these centres, which broadcasts educational material to learners, should be used to focus on mathematics, science and languages. The NECT structured it in this way in order to ensure that 90% of learners pass mathematics, science and languages with 50% by 2030. However, it’s proof of the success of these centres that teachers are using them to teach other subjects as well.

By launching various projects in one set timeframe, the district is set to see some very quick wins with regards to teaching methods and learner performance – which will be reflected in the upcoming year-end results. NECT CEO, Godwin Khosa remarks: “The NECT is excited!  These schools are an example of what can be achieved when we collaborate to effect change.”

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