Category: Enterprising School Leavers | Facilitate access to educational opportunities | 12 May, 2014 - 08:00← BACK
WHY GO FOR GOLD?
In South Africa today approximately half of our young people are unemployed. Additionally, there is a serious skills shortage, particularly in the Built Environment and related industry sectors. The problem is exacerbated by South Africa’s underperforming public education system. For example, in a recent survey of 62 countries the World Economic Forum ranked South Africa last for its low teaching standard of mathematics and science at government schools. As a result of this poor teaching, half of all university entrance level passes in mathematics and science is produced by only about 6% of schools.
Consequently, many high school students today, who attend under-resourced schools in disadvantaged areas, will struggle to achieve a Bachelor-level pass rate (the minimum requirement for admission to tertiary studies). In 2013 the national bachelor-pass-rate was just 30.6%. The Go for Gold initiative attempts to address this poor science and maths foundation in high school students in order to improve their chances of academic success in tertiary education institutions.
THE GO FOR GOLD INTERVENTION
Go for Gold is an award-winning ‘education-to-employment’ public-private initiative, founded in 1999 as a collaboration between companies in the construction sector, the Western Cape Department of Education, and civil society organisations. It was created to improve the number of candidates from disadvantaged communities who are eligible to study towards a technical profession and start a career in the Built Environment. We do this through a four-phrase programme, which cultivates the student’s interest and suitability for a career in the Built Environment.
This learning brief focuses specifically on the first phase of our programme and on the changes we have made to improve this component. Fundamentally our programme aims to:
This model is designed to achieve two objectives for phase one of the Go for Gold Programme.
Objective 1 – To provide a quality intervention programme that incorporates dedicated mathematics, science, and computer tuition so as to prepare participants for careers in the highly technical built environment.
Objective 2 – To add value to the intervention by providing participants with essential life skills; and the training and support to equip them to master the challenges of life and the working environment. The underlying purpose of the life skills module is to inspire the level of emotional maturity and independence essential in the pursuit of a successful career, with particular reference to the built environment.
THE CHALLENGE THAT GO FOR GOLD SOUGHT TO ADDRESS
The first phase of the Education to Employment programme is the “incubator”. During this phase, we aim to intellectually stimulate high-school learners in their Mathematics and Science classes, and to help instil in them a strong sense of self worth by offering Life Skills workshops. However, we found that the extra focus on teaching mathematics and science added a number of pressures on Grade 12 learners that caused some of them to drop out of the programme, resulted in high absenteeism, and slowed their academic performance. This presented a challenge for our programme managers.
After careful analysis, it was decided to amend our delivery of the Phase One model. The rationale behind the amendments is outlined here below. Each amendment was either the solution to a problem or an idea to improve the offering.
THE OLD PHASE ONE MODEL
We offered Grade 11 students extra tutoring in Mathematics and Physical Science. This tutoring took place for 2 hours each after school. Tutors followed the school curriculum and the prescribed pacesetters and they had flexibility in class to teach using their chosen style. The needs of the learners in the tutorial class determined the content during each session. We also offered Life Skills and Computer Skills classes for 2 hours each after school during the week. We introduced Saturday extra lessons for learners in Grade 12, which consisted mostly of final examination preparation. There were no weekday classes held in June, September, or November.
Advantages of this old strategy:
Disadvantages of this old strategy:
REVISED PHASE ONE MODEL
We started our amended model at the beginning of 2014. The new Phase One model was designed to decrease the time that Go for Gold demanded from learners, and so to lighten their workload. We also introduced audio visual and structured teaching and learning materials into the curricula, and we are attempting to improve the general academic performance of learners, and the general administrative on-site support for the learners.
This new model introduced the following changes:
PROGRAMME MONITORING STRATEGY
To effectively monitor our programme we use questionnaires, surveys, group discussions, attendance registers, observations, and academic grades as data collection tools. Reports reflecting the results of all these monitoring tools are submitted at each Board Meeting for the members to review and to inform their decision-making.
Results from our monitoring process of the new Phase One model revealed that the learners’ test results were still extremely poor. Learners appeared demotivated at this early stage (phase-one) of the programme, and the felt that they didn’t have enough time to complete their tests, or to prepare for the test on each topic. They also struggled with the multiple-choice format of the test and did not like it. We used this testing format to facilitate ease of marking in time for the Thursday catch-up class.
The tests are taken at the end of the day when students are not at their best, and contain too many high order questions. Tutors are concerned that the weekly, 2 hour long catch-up class does not allow enough time for re-testing. Our programme demands time from students and learners are often absent due to school activities, which disrupts the learning process for individual learners. Finally, we also find that some of the tutors over-rely on using the Mindset DVDs in class – to a larger extent than advisable – but the learners prefer more spoken interaction with the tutor.
We will make the following changes to combat these identified problems and to improve the programme outcomes:
This brief has shown how we have effectively used the programme monitoring results to improve our after-school tutoring programme. We focused here specifically on the first phase of the after-school programme and on the changes we made to improve this component. In addition, we outlined our monitoring strategy and provided a list of six programme changes that we will be making in the future.
PO Box 18526Cape TownWynbergSouth Africa
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Go for Gold’s education-to-employment initiative recently underwent some programmatic changes to improve the delivery of after-school tutoring. In this learning brief we discuss how effective monitoring revealed the need for changes in our programme, and how we are going about implementing these improvements. It provides a good case study on the functionality of programme monitoring and evaluation.