Rebranding STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) Education

STEM education plays a significant role in developing innovators and critical thinkers who can contribute to global competitiveness and economic growth. Chronically low national pass rates in these subjects have, however, necessitated a need for an innovative approach. This challenge inspired me to seek out a contemporary approach to unlocking the potential of learners.

Knowing the importance of STEM subjects on the economy, it broke my heart when education authorities reported that only one in seven learners left Grade 12 with a pass in maths every year, and that the number was even lower for physical science. This did not bode well for the 4IR.

The perennial poor outcomes served to undermine confidence in the current format of maths and science education locally, more so when one considers that some African countries with poorer economies manage to achieve decent pass rates.

Although interventions by the Department of Education have seen improvements in the pass rates in other subjects, maths and science have continued to present a formidable challenge. The dismal trend can be ascribed to various reasons, some of which include the negative perception towards maths and science among learners and teachers alike, lack of sufficient skills on the part of teachers, and adherence to an outdated teaching methodology. Many learners view the study of maths and science as taboo, as these subjects are considered too difficult. In certain instances, some teachers and school based subject advisers have in the past gone to the extent of discouraging their pupils from studying STEM subjects.

The antidote is an entirely new approach that will focus on nurturing a love for STEM subjects, and in particular mathematics and science. This can be practically achieved through the introduction of a learning format that is contemporary, attractive, and engaging. Children are drawn to technology because it is exciting and fun. As a result, they learn how to use high-tech devices and applications quickly and without much supervision. This is the approach that made the education systems of Finland and Singapore successful. The introduction of gamification into the teaching of STEM subjects was a game changer. The animations and manipulatives used in the teaching of these subjects elicit positive interest from the learners. The teaching of coding and robotics follows the same approach.

The solutions that we offer are CAPS aligned, endorsed by SACE, and are unit standard aligned. The material is available on software.

We hope to equip learners and teachers with material that supports and enhances the learning process. This, we hope, will make the educational system more efficient in developing a skilled and highly competitive future generation that will embrace opportunities presented by the 4IR.

Peter Sebiloane

Group Executive Chairman