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NMU on board to improve maths marks

Nelson Mandela University launched its innovative MobiTutorZA Academy, a combined online/offline maths programme, on Tuesday
BACK TO BASICS: Nelson Mandela University launched its innovative MobiTutorZA Academy, a combined online/offline maths programme, on Tuesday
Image: FILE

At the end of 2021, more than 23,000 matriculants in the Eastern Cape failed maths, along with thousands more across SA.

Many others scraped through, but will likely struggle with maths-related subjects at tertiary level, which could affect  their success in their studies and, ultimately, their future careers.

To give current and repeating matrics, students and any other adult learners a better chance to succeed in maths, Nelson Mandela University launched its  innovative MobiTutorZA Academy, a combined online/offline maths programme, on Tuesday.

The brainchild of the university’s Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre (GMMDC), the academy is built on the successes of its existing school-based programme, the Incubator School Programme (ISP), which has been running for more than a decade.

The average final-year maths mark achieved by the grade 12 pupils in 2021’s incubator  programme was over 65% — and 80% of them achieved bachelor’s passes, allowing them to progress to university.

One pupil, Asenathi Dube of Zimele High School in Mthatha, achieved 99% for maths.

In 2021, the incubator programme was extended to form part of the maths centre’s  ReMatric pilot programme, giving past matrics a chance to improve their maths results, and saw the average maths marks among them improve from 40% to 50%, while the top mark for maths was 71%.

“For many years, the programme was only available to selected learners in mostly under-resourced schools, through limited sponsored projects.

“The idea of consolidating our successful innovations by starting the MobiTutorZA Academy project is to make our programme more widely accessible, so that anyone, anywhere in SA, can benefit from it,” maths centre  director Prof Werner Olivier said.

The MobiTutorZA Academy is based on the centre’s tried and trusted techno-blended teaching and learning model, which is fully aligned with the CAPS curriculum, and brings together technology-based and traditional teaching methods, with the aim of encouraging self-directed learning outside the classroom.

Individuals, or schools, who subscribe to the academy will participate in a structured eight-month programme, running from March to October.

Twelve key topic learning cycles will be covered via online tests with automated feedback, individualised WhatsApp support and live Zoom support sessions to go over problem areas and past papers.

In addition, participants will have free year-long access to a host of online CAPS-aligned resources, which include multi-language support, links to video lessons and PowerPoint presentation, mock exams and access to innovative maths software, to help them visualise and understand maths concepts more easily.

Some of the content is found on the MobiTutorZA app, which was developed by the maths centre  and is available to the public.

However, the academy offering includes an offline version of the app that can be installed on a participant’s personal device, providing content and self-tests for pupils who do not have access to the internet.     

School subscriptions entitle all matrics to register for the academy’s maths programme.

“The online topic tests will help us identify maths learning gaps at schools, so we can profile these and give feedback to teachers on remedial action to address them, if needed,”  Olivier said.

“We are encouraging companies to sponsor the costs of school subscriptions, particularly for under-resourced schools, to allow as many matrics as possible to have access to this programme.”

Past matric pupil repeats who want a second chance at maths can subscribe to the programme, but must first register their intention to rewrite grade 12 maths with the basic education department.

Commenting on how the maths programme would benefit university students, NMU dean of science Prof Azwinndini Muronga said: “The MobiTutorZA Academy will greatly complement the science faculty’s in-house initiatives of 24/7 tutoring of university students.”

Looking to the future, the academy is planning to extend the project to include physical sciences and cover more grades.

For more information, WhatsApp 064-044-0717, or email mobitutorza@gmail.com



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