Solar Farms Fund Maths and Science Development in Local High Schools

Thirteen Northern Cape High Schools have joined the Telematics Programme in partnership with the Northern Cape Department of Education and the University of Stellenbosch, due to funding provided by two of the provinces solar farms.  Droogfontein Solar Power and De Aar Solar Power, have contributed over R700 000, to install the satellite broadcast programme to leaners in Grade 11 and 12 schools High Schools in De Aar,   Phillipstown, Kimberley, Barkly West, Delposrtshoop, Warrenton, Jan Kempsdorp, Hartswater, and Noord-Kaapland. “We would like to provide learners with the opportunity to improve their competency and aptitude in mathematics and science, so that they can progress higher in the education chain,” said Marion Green-Thompson, Economic Development Manager for De Aar Solar Power and Droogfontein Solar Power.

“Broadcasts certainly do not replace the teachers or what should be happening in class – it is simply an additional support, similar to extra tutorials to better equip learners, most of whom don’t have access to funds for additional tutoring,” continued Green-Thompson.

Northern Cape high schools are part of a national network of schools that are benefiting from the afternoon satellite broadcasts of additional lessons that are made from the studio of Stellenbosch University’s Telematic Services.  The extra classes are all arranged and scheduled by the Western Cape Department of Education, in line with the country-wide curriculum.  Learners are able to respond to or ask questions of the presenter in studio, via a web platform, or a text message. Through the web platform teachers can also download all the presentations and other resources. The education department also provide workbooks that can be used during the broadcasts.

These direct and interactive television broadcasts reach approximately 107 schools in the Northern Cape, 66 Eastern Cape schools, and almost 146 in the Western Cape, and require the installation of decoders and satellite dishes that have been installed at the schools.

A monitoring and evaluation plan is part of this project, which helps Stellenbosch University  thoroughly analyse learners’ marks, the schools’ context as well as feedback from the learners, teachers and principals about the impact of the programme

“Provisional results of the cohort of learners that commenced on this programme in 2009 shows that only three of the underperforming school out of the ten schools were still underperforming after the 2012 examinations; and of the seventy-five schools that joined the project in 2010 only twelve of these schools are still underperforming,”  concluded Green-Thompson

The programme provides after school television broadcasts on six subjects during the week.  The programme, which reached Grade 10 to 12 learners includes Mathematics and Science as tutor subjects.  The Northern Cape Department of Education requested permission from the Western Cape Department of Education for the programme to be extended to the Northern Cape in 2009.  Sixty-nine schools in the Northern Cape are included in the programme.