UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science recently hosted two curriculum conversations with Durban and Pietermaritzburg secondary school educators titled Bridging the Gap.
An initiative of the Office of the Dean of Teaching and Learning within the College, the aim was to engage meaningfully with UKZN’s feeder schools on the increasing gap between mathematics and science competency levels amongst school leavers, and standards required to navigate a Bachelor of Science degree successfully.
‘The articulation gap between school and university has been an ongoing cause for concern,’ said Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Naven Chetty. ‘This gap is projected to increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is clear that any meaningful interventions to address this articulation gap requires collaboration between key role-players in both the secondary school and university communities.’
High school educators shared their experiences and dialogued around keys issues, especially with respect to mathematics teaching. ‘The result is that we have gained a better understanding of the challenges faced within schools,’ said Chetty. ‘Moving forward, we would like to host a series of events to discuss curriculum matters and ways in which we can collaboratively increase STEM intake and the subsequent success of students.’
Along with Chetty, the event was hosted by Professor Fhatuwani Mudau, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor in the College, and Dr Boby Varghese, Director of the Centre for Academic Success in Science and Engineering.
Mudau highlighted that interventions were necessary more than 10 years ago, to have reduced the current articulation gaps. He hoped that such dialogues would help identify key areas where rapid intervention could improve the prospects for learners.
Durban Girls’ High, Glenwood Boys’ High, Northlands Girls’ High, Westville Girls’ High, Eden College, Crawford, St Marys, Treverton, Raisethorpe, Orient Islamic School, St Joseph’s Secondary, Howick Secondary, Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High, Maritzburg College, Epworth, Hilton College, Grace College, Nyonithwele Secondary, Laduma High School, Edendale Technical High School, George Town High School, Sobantu Secondary and Nyinethwele High were some of the local feeder schools (both public and private) that engaged with the College. The Department of Education’s Career Guidance Office was also in attendance.
‘It was eye-opening to hear first-hand the experiences of educators and the difficulties they face in the classroom,’ said Chetty. ‘This clearly highlights the need for not just interventions aimed at students, but also to provide much needed support for the teachers as well.’
Words: Sally Frost