The Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy was launched by the St Stithians Foundation in 2005. The Academy operates on the St Stithians College campus. This educational initiative has grown rapidly over the past 10 years, under the direction of the St Stithians Foundation Director and the Thandulwazi Trust (established in late 2010).
In 2015, in recognition of the importance of the Thandulwazi offering, St Stithians College and the Thandulwazi Trust appointed a full-time Director to lead the institution.
The Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy was created to address the critical issues pertaining to the teaching and learning of Maths and Science in South Africa. The central aim of the Academy is to contribute towards improving the state of Maths and Science teaching and learning, in schools in and around Gauteng.
The Academy has four main areas of focus:
- The Thandulwazi Saturday School aims to provide effective teaching in Maths, the Sciences (Physical and Life), Accounting and English for pupils from previously disadvantaged communities. A total of 30 Saturday sessions are held throughout the academic year, with 1 000 students attending classes.
- The Thandulwazi-Rokunda Teacher Development Programme focuses on upskilling the teaching methodologies of educators working in the ECD, Foundation, Intermediate and Senior phases of education in under-resourced schools in previously disadvantaged communities; and providing professional development for teachers and school leaders. Teacher development workshops take place 11 times during the course of the year and are held on Saturdays and attended by 1 300 teachers from across the region. In addition to the teacher workshops held at St Stithians College, the programme has extended its footprint into Limpopo and offers workshops for up to 400 teachers in the province.
- The Thandulwazi Intern-Teacher Training Programme aims to grow the number of professionally trained teachers in South Africa, particularly in areas of critical shortage such as Maths, Science, English and ECD/Foundation Phase. In 2015 the Thandulwazi Trust employed 34 young teacher interns at St Stithians College, making a significant contribution to the education of the next generation of South African teachers.
- The Thandulwazi Learner Sponsorship Programme provides bursaries for talented Maths/Science learners from previously disadvantaged communities to attend schools of excellence, such as St Stithians College and partner schools.
Both external and internal reviews and evaluations have shown that Thandulwazi’s programmes contribute significantly to the development of Mathematics and Science education in South Africa. More than 2 400 learners and teachers participate in programmes offered by Thandulwazi yearly.
Notably, over the last 4 years more than 95% of the learners attending the Thandulwazi Saturday School passed the National Senior Certificate, with more than 50% obtaining a Bachelor degree pass. A significant number of students who participated in our programmes over the years have achieved distinctions in both Maths and Science.
Many reports, including the recent Education for All 2013/14, contend that “the quality of an education system is only as good as the quality of its teachers”. South Africa needs good teachers who are competent, professional, dedicated and committed to making a difference in classrooms. Thus, there is a need to expose every child to a quality teacher; however, the majority of South African children, particularly those coming from indigent backgrounds and those exposed to different kinds of vulnerabilities, are not afforded the opportunity to be taught by the best educators.
Major reforms are required to address, first and foremost, initial teacher education and the broader question of how we recruit, train, and support teachers in South Africa. Thandulwazi wants to be part of the solution.