BMW South Africa’s Maths, Science and Technology Excellence Project Aligned with Government Objectives
Midrand – BMW South Africa’s Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) Excellence Project has once again yielded excellent matric results in 2012, with 37 distinctions in physical science and mathematics proving that investment in sustainable education can deliver tangible results.
According to Mr Bodo Donauer, Managing Director for BMW South Africa, the BMW MST Excellence Project is well positioned and speaks directly to government’s objectives of reducing the knowledge gap that exists within these critical focus areas by encouraging young learners to pursue careers in the fields of science and technology.
The BMW MST Excellence Project, which has been in existence for more than 20 years, deploys mobile laboratories, known as BMW Centres of Excellence, to participating schools and has been implemented in 37 schools that serve historically disadvantaged communities. As a result, more than 40 000 learners and 148 teachers are direct beneficiaries of the Project.
Bodo Donauer – Managing Director BMW South Africa
“Skills in the fields of mathematics and science are absolutely vital towards encouraging sustainable growth within South Africa and for BMW in particular, which is world famous for its technologicalexpertise,” says Donauer. “More importantly, our programme addresses key problems in the South African education system and addresses goals of the South African government with regards to education. Significantly, it has done so since its inception more than two decades ago.”
In President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address on 14 February, education was highlighted as a priority area. One of the activities the Department of Basic Education will be embarking on is the establishment of a national task team to strengthen the implementation of the Mathematics, Science and Technology Strategy. The President also urged the private sector to partner government through establishing, adopting or sponsoring maths and science academies or Saturday schools.
Recent statistics released by the South African Institute of Race Relations indicate that only 1 in 5 matriculants achieves more than 50% in maths and science, further highlighting the need for this type of corporate intervention.
In addition to the distinctions achieved, the core schools under the wing of the BMW MST Excellence Project achieved:
A pass rate greater than 23.5% higher than the National Average for historically disadvantaged schools nationally;
13.5% higher than the National Average for Mathematics and greater than 26.7% higher than the National Average for similar historically disadvantaged schools;
And 16.8% higher than the National Average for Physical Science and greater than 28.1% higher than the National Average for similar historically disadvantaged schools.
The other dilemma facing education in South Africa is the high volumes of learners who pass matric but do not meet the minimum requirements for university entrance.
“The aim of the BMW MST Excellence Project is to not only achieve good pass rates but to encourage our learners to excel, which is evident in the number of distinctions achieved in 2012 through our Project,” says Donauer.
Furthermore, the Project also focuses on supporting scholars in their bid to earn university educations. A key element of the BMW MST Excellence Project is the provision of tertiary level bursaries for students who wish to continue their studies in engineering, ICT and commerce. Upon completion of their degrees, these students become eligible for a position in BMW’s 24-month Graduate Trainee Programme, which often results in full-time employment within one of the company’s many divisions.
BMW attributes the success of its Project to a holistic approach which includes professional development and mentorship programmes for teachers; supplementary tuition and induction programmes for learners; provision of the highest quality teaching and learning resources as well as continuous and regular involvement and support from BMW’s teacher training and project management staff.
BMW MST Schools
The BMW MST schools are divided into three groups – the BMW Core Schools, Recovering Schools and New Schools – so that the project team may better understand and contextualise the schools’ performance according to their unique circumstances.
BMW South Africa has been working with a number of Core Schools for more than two years and through the MST project has been able to stabilise teacher development programmes and shift teacher skills to a higher level.
The Recovering Schools have been identified as having severe problems related to teacher skills. In addition, they serve communities which have a particularly low average household income and parental involvement. These schools were placed in a special recovery programme and the issue of skills were addressed in 2012 with intensive induction programmes for learners as well as robust mentorship and professional development programmes for inexperienced teachers.
To add to the portfolio of schools BMW South Africa assists, the Kwa-Zulu Natal Department of Education identified two new schools which have been in the most destitute of situations, both in terms of teacher skills and extreme poverty levels which are compounded by almost zero communications and roads infrastructure.
“We are very proud of the progress made by the vast majority of schools which are part of the BMW MST Excellence Project. As an engaged and committed corporate citizen for the past 40 years, BMW South Africa remains committed to the development and training of all our teachers and the overall educational growth of our learners in 2013,” concludes Donauer.