Being Frank with Mac- The Maths and Science crisis
Written by MacFarlane Moleli
We have a crisis on our hands. I know we have many problems in our country and I do not want to be amongst those that are alarmists and want to move to Australia every time I see our countries state of affairs when I read the papers. However I can emphatically state that the Maths and Science failures in our education system have reached a crisis point and an urgent intervention is needed to save our children and pupils.
Perhaps I should put in a disclaimer before I tell you about my crusade for these two subjects, which are giving me endless nightmares. You see my parents were both educators, with my late father being the first principal of Jordan High School in Evaton. This is in the former Vaal Triangle now known as Sedibeng district- we still call it the Vaal. He was one of those old school teachers who firmly believed in the often-quoted biblical verse of “spare the rod and spoil the child.” However having listened to stories about him from family and friends, he apparently used this same verse, even on the teachers that were late or lazy.
You see, my dad was an incredibly intelligent man. He never forgot to remind us that his name Tsebo means knowledge. I think what made it worse was that his closest friends would also call him knowledge. This is the nickname they would use when they had a bit too many drinks of Smere Mere Smirnoff 1818, the original Vodka.
My father Tsebo Moleli, was a tower of a man who was also a boxer during his student days, so he had a militant discipline when it came to issues of education and learning. Word is, he would make sure that the school gates opened from 6.45am in the morning and that all his students and teachers would be in the school premises by 7.30am sharp. If you were late as a student, the rod was yours, I mean hey, it’s in the divine scriptures, so dare we even think of disobeying divine intervention. But if you were a teacher and you were also late then he also had a hot klaap waiting for you, because you were setting a terrible example and also needed discipline.
Over the years of being principal of Jordan, he produced students that passed with exemptions, even in those days of unrest and rioting. This militancy culminated into Jordan high school achieving a 100% pass rate every single year. So either the students were brilliant or chisa mpama was great motivation for the teachers. I still say it could have been a combination of both.
And then there was my sweet mother, Matokelo Florence Moleli, who was also a teacher. She is the one that instilled in me the importance of reading, humility and being kind to others. A disciplinarian of note that would kill you with kindness- as much as she was soft, kind and warm, she made sure that we were good children. She began her humble career as a nurse and then moved on to teaching. You see, there is an educational romance which took place between my mom and dad, because while they were raising us, they were also busy furthering their studies. So when one finished their degree, the other would work and support the family, then the other would go off and study. This carried on until my father finally got his masters and my mother got her honors degree. She went on to teach adults at the old Vista University campuses, producing many students that had a passion for African languages.
I know I have digressed, but this is a snippet of the people that raised me, and an indication of where my love and passion comes from regarding education. This is why I have now made it my one-man crusade to help the African child to also love these two subjects. I strongly believe that the more we encourage children and make them understand the importance of Maths and Science, the easier it will become for them to also have a passion for learning these awesome subjects.
My crusade began when I started searching and finding myself an old school teacher who shared the same dreams as us. I had to find an individual who was teaching in the township and understands the dynamics of our children that have been at a disadvantage for the past 300 years.
And so my crusade then called me back home- back to the dusty streets where we would ride bmx bikes, make cars with hangers, look for sticks to fly kites, and play with spinning tops to see who was the king of the streets. I found myself back in the Vaal, back to my home back to my roots. This time I knew I had a purpose; I knew that I needed to find a weapon that would unlock the potential of millions of children all over my beautiful country.
This weapon came in the guise of an old wise man, who like my late dad, was an old school teacher that was fascinated by mathematics and education. This was a person who would be enthralled by the power of the mind and children’s capabilities. My search led me to a mathematical genius whose Maths learning methodology spans almost three decades of Asian travels, English breakfasts and rural Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Next week, I will introduce you to our K-Maths Methodology and our companies philosophy of ‘Teaching with the End in Mind’ while you will also meet our mathematical genius. I will also take you through my travels and interactions with professionals on the situation right now regarding math and science in South Africa.