The prospective teachers from Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu universities are the very first “student tutors” in a new, extended technology-blended maths and science Incubator School Programme (ISP), which over the past five years has helped thousands of promising Eastern Cape learners improve their marks, and gain access to tertiary education.
If it is successful, the newly-launched “ISP and Student Teacher Tutor Programme” – piloted in Nelson Mandela Bay and Mthatha at the weekend – will be extended to other provinces.
Nelson Mandela University’s Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre (GMMDC) – with sponsorship from Capitec Foundation – is running the curriculum-linked programme in the two cities, providing 250 selected Grade 10 to 12 learners with extra tuition through the 16-week Saturday programme.
Each learner will also receive a 7” Android tablet as a “personal tutor”, loaded with a GMMDC-developed app called TouchTutor®, which is crammed full of interactive curriculum-aligned digital resources, in the form of video lessons, PowerPoint presentations, calculator assistance, self-tests with scoring and feedback, old national and provincial exam papers and multi-language support in eight indigenous languages.
And they will have the added benefit of the “student tutors”, who will provide mid-week tutoring with small groups of Grade 10 learners at their respective schools, using high-tech approaches to help the learners work through maths and science challenges and deepen their understanding of the subjects.
The student teachers are all being trained to use a small new digitalised teaching device – called the Gamma Tutor – which includes the TouchTutor® app, and can be plugged directly into a projector, TV or any digital screen. This dongle-like mini-computer without a screen, which will soon be officially released by GMMDC as a new mobile teaching device for school classrooms, will empower the student teachers to engage in professional teaching practices, geared towards 21st century learners.
At the Nelson Mandela Bay launch of the new programme on Saturday (9 February), held at the Eastcape Training Centre (ETC) in Struandale, the student tutors, all fourth-year education students from Nelson Mandela University, couldn’t wait to get started.
“I think the learners will appreciate it a lot, having someone sit next to them, helping them to see where they’re stuck,” said student tutor Frans Louw. “It will also help us to grow as teachers – especially learning how to incorporate technology with teaching.”
“There are different types of learners,” said fellow tutor Monique Paulse. “I’m looking forward to learning how to adjust to learners who are slower and faster [to catch on]. Not all learners will understand the first time, so you need to try different techniques.”
“It’s an opportunity to stay up to date with the content,” said Danielle du Plessis. “By tutoring, we’ll be helping ourselves to learn the content and bring this across to the learners.”
“Someone once said: ‘When you teach, you learn.’ I believe this new tutor component of the ISP programme will help me to learn while I’m teaching,” said Anita Rossouw. “In this crucial year before getting my own classes, it will help me to develop to the fullest I possibly can.”
GMMDC director Prof Werner Olivier said: “This new programme – and the new technology – is a way to empower teachers to deal with real challenges, with the assistance of very modern mobile teaching tools and resources, which have been researched and developed over the past 10 years.
“It could impact the course of their professional careers as teachers.”
Neptal Khoza, Head of Capitec Foundation, said: “We are excited about the launch of this programme in Port Elizabeth and Mthatha. By offering university teaching students an opportunity to harness their teaching/tutoring skills, we enable them access to 21st century teaching and practical experience. We believe it will improve the maths and science performance of all learners participating in the programme.”
Learners in Nelson Mandela Bay are hopeful the programme will boost their results.
Sanctor High Grade 10 learner Codi Ownhouse, 15, said: “Maths and science are a big struggle. I’m hoping this programme will help me a lot.”
“I’m expecting higher marks and hope to learn more and know more,” said Sinazo Kafatyi, 15, a Grade 10 learner from Khwezi Lomso High.
Grade 12 Gelvan High pupil Ruwellen Jacobs, 17, said attending the traditional ISP over the past two years had helped his maths mark climb from 47% to 85%. “I’m looking forward to this year’s ISP – I’m aiming for level 7 (over 80%) in science as well.”