In an ongoing quest to unearth and develop top black engineers, the SA Medical and Education (SAME) foundation opened two state-of-the-art science laboratories at Zimasa Primary School, in Langa, and ID Mkhize High School, in Gugulethu.
On Friday May 18, the foundation handed over the laboratory at Zimasa and on Monday May 21, at ID Mkhize. The two laboratories are valued at R1.2 million and follow similar initiatives at other township schools such as Manzomthombo High School, in Mfuleni. More schools are set to benefit from the programme.
The foundation, which is funded by big businesses to construct science laboratories at previously disadvantaged schools, aims to provide township schools with top of the range science resources to improve maths and science results.
The labs have interactive boards and can accommodate 50 pupils. The Fenix counter tops are lab grade, meaning they are resistant to chemicals and acids, scratches and stain. The lab has pump action water systems which seeks to reduce water use and the floors were hospital grade vinyl sheeting, with no detergents being needed to clean them.
Trevor Pols, CEO of the foundation, said they hoped to provide an environment conducive to learning and teaching. Mr Pols said the learning tools would boost maths and science performance at township schools, thus giving those pupils an opportunity to excel in the engineering sector.
He added that most big engineering companies complained about the lack of black engineers and said they were engaging the companies to fund the foundation in order to equip and unleash future black engineers.He said township schools did not have enough resources and that made it difficult for teachers to do their jobs adequately.
“These kind of labs are often made for universities and not for schools,” he said. He added that the foundation would conduct visits twice a year to check whether the labs were being used properly.
Zimasa principal, Fezile Mguqulwa, said the school had no lab and that made it difficult for the teachers to conduct experiments.
He said the handover was a “bold step towards igniting passion and love of science” among pupils.
Education MEC Debbie Schafer, said the foundation’s investment in schools in the Western Cape was greatly appreciated, and was testament to the successes of public-private partnerships in addressing challenges in the education sector.
Ms Schafer said the new centre was an exciting and innovative development for ID Mkhize High School.
“ID Mkhize is one of the oldest schools in the Western Cape and a school that I am particularly proud of. This school has become a beacon of hope in this community. The school has gone from strength to strength.
“In 2015 this school achieved a pass rate of 64% in the National Senior Certificate. In 2017, they achieved a pass rate of 83.1% with the number of pupils increasing,” she said.
Ms Schafer said currently the school only offered natural sciences in Grades 8 and 9 and “I believe that with the provision of this fantastic new science lab, the school will be extending the curriculum to include physical sciences.” Mr Mguqulwa said the school they needed teaching tools to make teaching easy and meaningful.
“I don’t want to hear about any vandalism of this lab. It should be protected all the time,” he said. Mayenzeke Sopaqa, chairperson of the school governing body at Zimasa, said the lab was a step towards providing a higher quality of education.