Binga High science subjects pass rate improves

BINGA High School in Matabeleland North province has started recording an improved pass rate in Mathematics and Science subjects following a partnership with the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) under the Schools Enrichment Programme (NUSTSEP).

Nust started implementing the NUSTSEP in March 2011 following an outcry over a poor pass rate in Mathematics and Science subjects in most schools in Matabeleland North.

The programme has not only improved enrolment for Nust but has also helped schools achieve better pass rates in Science subjects.

 NUSTSEP was founded by the late Professor Senelani Hove-Musekwa to help girls from the Matabeleland region to pass Mathematics and increase their chances of enrolling at the Nust.

 Binga High School has over the years, suffered lower pass rates due to a lack of Mathematics and Science teachers.

This comes at a time when the Government aims to train about 5 000 Science and Mathematics teachers by 2025 to address the critical shortage in schools, especially in Matabeleland.

The programme started with 160 students from Bulawayo province and later extended to Matabeleland North and South provinces during school holidays. Later, it expanded to the Midlands Province.

 It is aimed at enhancing the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in high schools targeting disadvantaged O and A-level learners with potential.

The programme, which runs under the Nust Department of Applied Mathematics, seeks to motivate school learners to value STEM subjects.

 It draws on the expertise of other organisations such as the Cambridge University Millennium Mathematics Project (MMP) and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). Currently, it is headed by Dr Sarudzai Showa.

So far, 38 schools in Bulawayo, 55 schools in Matabeleland North and over 40 from Matabeleland South provinces have participated in NUSTSEP.

 Nust director of communications and marketing, Mr Thabani Mpofu said thousands of learners have benefited from NUSTSEP since its inception.

 “This arrangement has actually resulted in an increase in the pass rate for different subjects at A-level, with Mathematics 55 percent, Biology 61 percent, Physics 82 percent, and Chemistry 74 percent in Matabeleland North. As a result, Matabeleland North ranking in O-Level pass rate improved from 10th position to 8th in the O-level national examinations in 2014 and 2015,” he said.

 “One of the schools, Binga High School, registered seven O-level students in the programme and they passed with 4As, 2Bs and 1C grades, which is a first in the history of the school to record such a pass rate in Mathematics. For all pupils who went through the programme, there were more As than Bs and Cs in both A-level and O-level.”

Mr Mpofu said the programme relies on the expertise of volunteer lecturers from the Departments of Applied Mathematics, Biology, Physics and Chemistry in the Faculty of Applied Science.

 The lecturers work together with selected best mathematics teachers. Classes are conducted on Saturdays at the Nust main campus.

During school holidays, NUSTEP teams go out to schools in Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South to conduct classes at designated centres for a period of two weeks.

“There is a class for each subject and in each of the classes there will be an average of 30 students who are taught by two teachers; one from Nust and the other from schools,” said Mr Mpofu.

About 80 percent of NUSTSEP O-level pupils have taken mathematics at A-level as one of their subjects while over 90 percent of the students from the programme’s intakes have registered at tertiary institutions.

 Nust enrolled 785 students between 2011 and 2014 in various departments and thus achieving one of the objectives of the programme. Ever since the start of NUSTSEP, departments that were failing to attract enough students were now enrolling classes of above 30 students.

 Mr Mpofu said the programme had been suspended due to the non-availability of resources and the challenges induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

 “We are inviting the corporate and other organisations to partner with Nust in promoting the teaching of STEM subjects at Ordinary and Advanced levels. At the height of Covid-19, the programme closed during the first term of 2020,” he said.

 “Since then, the university has failed to resume the programme due to a lack of resources. The closure of the programme is beginning to impact negatively on programmes offered in the Faculty of Applied Science, as they are failing to attract enough applicants.”

Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira recently said the nation was struggling with a 95 percent skills deficit in the medical sector and a 94 percent skills gap in the engineering sector, a situation which continues to affect service delivery and economic growth.

He said the country only had five percent of the required skills in the medical sector and six percent skills availability in the science sector, thereby hampering efforts to provide effective and quality services for the betterment of the nation.

Failure to pass Mathematics has reduced the chances of those intending to pursue a career in sciences. -@Chroniclezw

© Copyright 2024. National University of Science & Technology. All Rights Reserved