2020 started out full of promise. The second decade of the 21st Century! A neat repeating pattern of numbers that seemed to herald stability, order and continuity.
CASME had closed out a 3 year strategic cycle and was about to revisit this to consider some new focus areas. In particular we were looking to consolidate our learning around ICT integration in mathematics and science teaching, our role in education research, and our place as a convenor of collaborative efforts to strengthen the education system.
At the centre of our work remained our vision of changing the lives of learners through quality and innovative mathematics and science education.
Then the reality of COVID19 hit. Without re-living this painful year that we are trying to move past, some themes emerged; gratitude, resilience and grit.
Underpinning these was the work we had done to prepare for our next phase of organisational growth and development. We had resolved to grow our partnership network, involve ourselves in sector strengthening efforts such as NASCEE, position ourselves and our thinking to take on more research and evaluation work, and consolidate our approach based on evidence of what works in education devleopment.
This is usually the time of year when we thank all our supporters that enabled us to continue with our work. This year we do so again but in particular to thank our funders and supporters for recognising the really challenging realities facing the social change sector. They consulted continously, tried to be flexible, allowed for novel solutions. Yes, sometimes we had difficult conversations about contracts, budgets and deliverables, but always with a view of the future and with an openness to listen. In offering gratitude we must also consider that we have survived where others have not. We also spare a thought for those who have succumbed during the pandemic.
It is really quite hard to believe that just over 9 months have passed since the world changed. If nothing has been clearer, it is the capacity of individuals and organisations to bounce back. And in bouncing back to come to a new place of understanding, to have acquired new insights, new skills and new ways of working. The CASME team, schools, teachers and learners we work with have demonstrated this capacity over and over. It is this capacity that inspires hope. But if there is one thing that we should cling to, in fact should fight for, is to "Build Back Better", a concept from the Sandai distaster response Framework of 2015. It refers not merely to being better than before but also to be more resilient in the face of future disasters. And this means we must make hard choices, and we must draw on a depth of character to not slide easily back to our old ways. For CASME this means many things, including leveraging technology, continuing our support for teachers in the poorest schools, supporting the system and being willing to learn from evidence.
Lastly, grit, more relevant now than ever when a life-changing event such as the COVID19 pandemic throws obstacles, failures and blockages in our path. Grit is our ability to push through. Grit is also about doing the right thing in the face of those obstacles. For example, when it was convenient to move online, CASME along with many others, recognised that millions of children did not have access and needed a different solution.
We will need to draw on our grit as we navigate the next phase, in order to truly Build Back Better.
We know that you will join us on this exciting new time and journey.
We encourage you to follow our social accounts (Facebook, Twitter) to stay in touch with the day to day interactions and support that the CASME team deliver. The team's tireless efforts cannot go unrecognised. They are the heart of all that we do.
Please note that our office will re-open on 6 January 2021. We look forward to connecting with you during the course of the new year and wishing you all the best for a restful festive season with family and loved ones.
In the meantime, enjoy the collage below from the year that was 2020 (!)
Yours in education
The CASME Team
It has been a whirlwind few weeks as we have ramped up our project support activity. A major challenge during the lockdown has been access. Our rapid surveys showed this and our on-the-ground experience provided further evidence of the digital divide. Our response was to produce and distribute paper resources to learners and teachers, and offer some level of support through mobile messaging applications. However, in truth many of the rural and peri-urban schools that are the focus of CASME's work struggled.
Now that restrictions have eased, opportunities to provide support are also opening up. The past weeks have been evidence of this and we are leveraging a blended approach of on-site connectors to beam our experienced facilitators across multiple sites. In some ways this is a real test for a new way of working that we have piloted in a few projects over the past year or two. The early indicators are promising!
Our teachers' workshops made the move to a blended model. Working with our Department of Education partners in Amajuba and Ugu and our champion teachers in Umlazi districts, we convened training and support workshops for Natural Sciences and Mathematics teachers. CASME facilitators are adapting to the new approach using virtual meeting tools, online forms and screen writing gadgets to create engaging sessions.
CASME's mobile science resource centre initiative, Science2Go, is also back with renewed vigour after the Covid-19 break. Using our blended model, concurrent teams of on-site lab assistants (who are now doubling up as remote connectors), our experienced science facilitators are beaming in to multiple classrooms around the province, to guide learners through practical activities.
Our weekends are also thankfully once again packed with learner tutorial sessions. We are pulling out all the stops, working with the Class of 2020 to get them ready for their exams. Facilitators are broadcasting into multiple classrooms to provide lessons in mathematics and science, with the help of our "remote connectors". We even had one of CASME's former facilitators (now based in Mpumalanga) join us on Sunday for a session.
Our partnership with UniZulu Science Centre has enabled us to offer a one-of-a-kind Physics exam review / essential skills course through our new LEARN.casme.org.za platform, with more courses for Life Sciences and Mathematics in the pipeline.
We are really excited about the boundaries that are being broken with our blended model, and the reach we are achieving, where purely online modes fail to reach the most vulnerable. As we move forward we definitely see this is part of our 'normal' and an opportunity to scale our impact.
Onward! And Upward!
The Zenex Foundation celebrates as two learners from the Izimpande Zokukhanya Project make it into the top 20 achievers in the First Additional Language (FAL) National Olympiad. The two Grade 12 learners from Our Lady of the Rosary High School in iLembe District, KwaZulu-Natal - Kwenama Mkhize and Bongeka Mvelase - took 4th and 16th place respectively, in the Olympiad. They achieved Diamond, which is an equivalent of 80% and above.
Izimpande Zokukhanya Project is one of three multi-provincial projects rolled out from 2016-2020 in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. It aimed to develop schools with potential into high functioning schools that offer quality Mathematics, Science and English teaching and learning to disadvantaged learners. The Foundation partnered with six schools in iLembe.
The De Beers Olympiad is an English competition hosted by the Grahamstown Foundation and the South African Council for English Education. The competition draws over 8000 entries from South Africa and neighbouring countries. What makes the Olympiad unique is the fact that it goes beyond the normal scope of the school syllabus. Learners are tested and expected to apply critical thinking skills, and need to be sharp and creative at the same time.
The competition is open to Grade 9-12 learners and a total of 59 Zenex project learners took part in 2020. The top achievers’ prizes range from cash, books and book vouchers. The prizes would be handed out at the National Arts Festival, but due to COVID-19, the 2020 celebrations could not take place in Grahamstown.
All the learners who took part in the Olympiad will receive certificates which indicate their exam evaluation.
The Zenex Foundation congratulates all the learners who participated in the competition. We applaud all the teachers and NGO partners who assisted the learners in preparation for this prestigious competition. Zenex Foundation salutes you.
This article originally appeared on the Zenex Foundation Website at https://www.zenexfoundation.org.za/informationhub/news/item/548-rosary-diamonds-shine-against-all-odds-and-make-it-into-the-top-20-of-the-fal-national-olympiad
Dear Partners and Stakeholders
On the 11th of March 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as an international ‘pandemic’. On Sunday 15 March the President of South Africa declared a national state of disaster, including several serious measures to help reduce the impact of the disease. These are outlined in the full statement.
1. Guidelines from the WHO
The WHO is the highest medical authority on diseases. These are their guidelines and here is their Q&A page.
2. South African DoH guidance on Coronavirus
This is the South African Health Department’s website on Coronavirus. Which has all the details on South Africa’s response, contact numbers etc.
What are we doing about this at CASME?
The decisions taken and outlined here are based on the following principles:
No local and international flights are allowed from 15 March 2020 to 30 April 2020. As more information becomes available on the extent of the spread these dates may be extended at some point in the future.
2) Washing hands regularly, don’t touch your face
The best method of preventing coronavirus is by washing your hands for 20-seconds with soap and water. The way the virus gets into your system is through your nose, your mouth or your eyes. Respiratory droplets (from a cough or a sneeze) that get into your mouth/eye/nose are what infect you. For that reason don’t touch your face, cough into your elbow and wash your hands often.
3) Extensive Social distancing - meetings and training workshops
One of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of the disease is to minimize unnecessary physical contact with others. This includes shaking people’s hands and hugging. CASME staff will use alternatives like the foot-tap, the sup, the hip-bump or the bow. Please don’t be offended. They will also keep at least one meter away from people who show any symptoms of having the flu.
As part of our extensive social distancing campaign all CASME staff are eligible to work from home, particularly those who rely on public transport. They will however still be available over email and telephone. We will try and move as many of our meetings to Zoom rather than in-person.
All teacher workshops, learner classes and other group activities are cancelled until 14 April when schools are scheduled to reopen. We will assess the status then and revise this if needed.
We acknowledge that these extreme measures will impact on our work with schools, teachers and learners. We will do our best to mitigate these through electronic distribution of resources and support, and to re-schedule activities as soon as it is reasonable to do so.
Thank you for patience and continued support and assistance as we work together to limit the impact of this global health crisis.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me on email@example.com or 0824405242 for assistance or clarification.
Henre Benson (Director) and the CASME Team
*With thanks to Nic Spaull and Funda Wande for sharing their version of this document from which we have borrowed substantially
Thank you to all the teachers, learners, partners and supporters who have contributed to our work in Mathematics and Science education during 2018. It has been another significant year as we continue to make strides in realising our vision of changing the lives of learners through quality and innovative mathematics and science education.
As is customary we take this moment to pause and reflect on some highlights for the year and also to acknowledge our supporters.
Mobile Science Gaining Traction
Our mobile science programme under the Science2Go brand was piloted between 2014 and 2017 in partnership with MAHLE Behr SA who continue to champion and support our work. During the pilot phase we have been able to demonstrate a cost-effective response to the need for practical science learning experiences where school laboratories are not a reality in many schools. Our evaluation of the pilot phase showed a 43% increase in Physical Science enrolment in the participating high schools. The Science2Go project reached 10,000 learners and provided support to 100 teachers during 2018 in the Pinetown District. On the back of these successes we were joined by Astron Energy SA (formerly Chevron SA) to launch Science2Go 2.0 to expand the reach of the project by a further 30 schools in the Umlazi District.
Bridging Research and Practice
CASME has a long history as interlocutor in maths and science education. This year we continued to build on this role through our work on a Communication Learning Brief for the Mathematics Education Chairs Initiative, which distilled key lessons for practical application by policy makers and practitioners. The booklet, commissioned by the First Rand Foundation, is available on our website and includes downloadable resources developed by the Numeracy and Mathematics Research Chairs. It was officially launched at the NRF/DST/DBE/HRDC Community of Practice earlier this year.
In a similar vein CASME launched a new forum aimed at bringing together researchers, education development specialists and practitioners in mathematics education. The inaugural session of the MERDaP (Maths Education Research Development and Practice) Forum focused on ICMI Study 24 which is co-chaired by CASME Trustee Prof Renuka Vithal.
\This is just a snapshot and a select few highlights. We encourage you to stay on top of our latest news through our social channels.
None of these successes would be possible without your continued support and commitment to our work. We are grateful to have had generous contributions by our donor partners from the business sector and independent trusts who continue to recognise the importance of quality education for the future of all South Africans.
Our office will re-open on 3 January 2019. We look forward to connecting with you during the course of 2019 and wishing you all the best for a restful festive season with family and loved ones.
Yours in education
The CASME Team
This Friday we are pushing our FutureFund up a gear to highlight an important but not always obvious issue.
Join us live on East Coast Radio from 6am to 9am as we broadcast from Westmead Secondary School.
Not only have we moved the needle on science practical learning experiences with our innovative Science2Go programme which is now set to reach more schools and more learners with the second vehicle on the road already, BUT we are tackling the issue of calculators.
Our studies have revealed that up to 70% of learners in Grades 10 to 12 in our rural and township schools are studying maths and preparing for exams without a personal scientific calculator.
So we partnered with MAHLE, Seartec and Maths@Sharp to put calculators in the hands of learners.
For every R200 raised we will supply a calculator and Seartec will match that. So TWO for the price of ONE!
Join us as we create opportunity and inspire future maths leaders!
CASME wishes to appoint an eLearning consultant to support a move to a blended eLearning mode of programme delivery.
The consultant will manage and implement the 1) Evaluation and Selection of an appropriate eLearning Platform and 2) Conversion of existing programmes to eLearning format.
The eLearning consultant should submit a proposal, which:
Comprehensive submissions responding to this brief should be emailed to:
By Friday 13 April 2018
The full RFP can be downloaded from the link below:
2017 Mandela Washington Fellow Malshini Senaratne joins CASME on a two-week practicum as she learns how the organisation strives to change the lives of learners through mathematics and science, and apply that experience towards the development of a ‘Girls in S.T.E.M.’ program for the Seychelles. She is one of 130 Fellows chosen this year to undergo professional practicums across Africa in partnership with private, public, and non-profit companies.
So far, Malshini has participated in several practicums and school visits managed by CASME’s experienced staff, including a Physical Sciences Training Program for Grade 12 children, a Natural Science Learners Practicum at Buhlebemfunde Secondary School for Grades 9 and 10 and memorably, a school visit to Nqakatahela Secondary School to observe Grade 10 English and Mathematics lessons. She enjoyed traveling with the CASME team and especially enjoyed spending time with the school children, learning more about them and their academic journey. She is also taking the opportunity to learn a few isiZulu phrases, and has so far mastered only Sanibona (work in progress).
Malshini is the co-founder and Director of the environmental engineering company Eco-Sol Consulting in Seychelles. She launched and manages the company’s community initiative being a volunteer teaching/mentoring program with secondary school girls. As the only private company running such a program in the country, Malshini is keen to scale her program up with a Girls in STEM initiative for a nation-wide impact.
Malshini has high hopes from this practicum; ‘My goals revolved around securing a learning and development role with this practicum, one where I can get hands-on experience and hone my leadership skills and so far, CASME has fulfilled and surpassed my expectations! I am very grateful to the Fellowship for identifying a dream match, and CASME’s Director Henre Benson in particular for accommodating my placement willingly. I’m excited to learn and work closely with the CASME team in order to develop, launch and then package a sustainable Girls in S.T.E.M program for not only the Seychelles context but other Indian Ocean islands as well.’
In association with Lighton Education, CASME will be hosting a one-off practical, fun, interactive workshop for Foundation Phase teachers, teacher trainers, NGOs.
Date: Saturday 3 March 2018
Time: 11:00 – 13:00
Registration at 10:30
23 Caversham Road
Cost: Only R50 pp, pay at the door in cash or with Zapper
Booking: Email your name, mobile number to firstname.lastname@example.org
Bring: SACE & ID number, pen, bottle tops, scrap paper with at least one side unused
Learner to Use What YOU Have and get set for SUCCESS!!
The Science 2Go campaign is hoping to bring practical science experiments to Bay schools soon following their recent roadshow, enjoyed by Douglas Mbopa High School pupil Kilani Junior, 13, Mahle Communications manager Jolene van Heerden, Javu Lusanda, 13, and CASME’s Henre Benson
Picture: Tremaine van Aardt
This article originally appears in the Herald Newspaper and Herald Live.
A mobile science lab rolled into Nelson Mandela Bay yesterday on a mission to reignite a passion for maths and science in impoverished schools through practical application of the usually mundane theory.
A dire need for engineers saw Mahle South Africa partner with the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME) three years ago to establish the Science2Go campaign.
And in the last two days the science lab has visited six schools to raise awareness and garner support for the campaign. The visit could give two pupils the opportunity to study at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Stuttgart, Germany.
The idea is to take science to the pupils in way they can touch and see it in action through practical experiments instead of just reading about theory in their books.
Speaking at Douglas Mbopa High School, Science2Go chief operations officer Henre Benson said the campaign had already reached more than 15 000 pupils across KwaZulu-Natal and would soon be active in the Bay. “We will handle all the practical experiments in the curriculum. Children tend to learn when they can see what is being taught,” he said.
“This skills development has already improved the science enrolment in our  KwaZulu-Natal schools by 43%. “So initially we do the experiments but we also train the teachers to make it sustainable once our services are needed elsewhere.”
He said this week was a roadshow to introduce the concept to the schools. Should a sponsor assist in buying and equipping another vehicle, the mobile lab will be operational in the city within three months.
“Once we are operational we will visit the identified schools anywhere between once a week or once a month, depending on the availability and the requirements of the school.”
Douglas Mbopa deputy principal Konya Nomazulu said the campaign was phenomenal. “We will definitely be on board with this.”
Mahle communications manager Jolene van Heerden said the organisation’s corporate social investment programme focused on addressing problems with maths and science at schools. “We wanted to make a difference.”
She said Mahle funded university studies for several pupils.
“Two of the most exceptional pupils are given an opportunity to study engineering at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Stuttgart, which is an R800 000 bursary spread over four years.”