The partnership between automotive component manufacturer MAHLE South Africa and the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME) has seen their joint ‘Science2Go’ project directly supporting over 17,000 learners and over 250 teachers at 130 schools. CASME has indirectly reached almost 50,000 learners as at the end of 2019.
MAHLE South Africa is one of the largest automotive parts manufacturers, driving the future of engineering stars. They realise this goal through their innovatory approach and their partnership with the likes of the NGO, CASME.
Henre Benson, a director of CASME, said that 90% of public schools lack a functional science laboratory, a necessary requirement to expose learners to hands-on, experiential in science, engineering and technology.
Recognising the difficulties faced by science teachers as well as the opportunity to reach more learners, MAHLE South Africa began exploring, with CASME, ways in which to move the resource centre concept closer to schools. And so the MAHLE South Africa ‘Science2Go’ Mobile Resource Centre initiative was born.
“MAHLE South Africa partnered with CASME in 2015 to fill this need through the ‘Science2Go’ mobile laboratory programme that travelled initially to schools in KwaDabeka, Molweni and Cleremont to take hands-on science to primary and high schools learners,” he explained.
Jolene Van Heerden, Communications Manager for MAHLE South Africa said, “We continue to spark an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths and with the objective of developing the science leaders of tomorrow.”
CASME also focuses on professional development and support for teachers through training and provision of resources for science and mathematics teaching in under-resourced and previously disadvantaged communities. It operates throughout the schooling sector from Foundation Phase to Grade 12 throughout South Africa and implements a range of interventions in support of the Department of Basic Education.
“During the pilot phase we were able to demonstrate a cost-effective response to the need for practical science learning experiences where school laboratories are not a reality in many schools. Our evaluation of the pilot phase showed a 43% increase in Physical Science enrolment in the participating high schools,” explained Mr Benson.
“On the back of these successes we were joined by Astron Energy SA (formerly Chevron SA) to launch ‘Science2Go 2.0’ to expand the reach of the project by a further 30 schools in the Umlazi District,” he said.
MAHLE South Africa is a member of the National Association for Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM) and CASME a beneficiary of NAACAM’s three golf days this year. Renai Moothilal, NAACAM Executive Director, said that South Africa's economic prosperity depends on the availability of sufficient highly educated and trained people in science, mathematics and technology.
“Increasing such availability, particularly with people from disadvantaged backgrounds, will go a long way to addressing structural growth and inequality, especially as we move into a technology intensive working future. CASME is one of the organisations successfully addressing this need and we are proud to be associated with them.”
CASME’s portable laboratory kits provide a way to bring practical, hands-on science learning and teaching into schools at relatively low cost. “Whilst the resource centres have achieved some success at bridging the gaps in science teaching and learning, in many cases equipment is not utilised effectively. One of the reasons for this is that teachers lack the necessary experience, skills and confidence to use the equipment either in demonstration or in hands-on activities with learners. Many schools also lack the capacity and experience to ensure the maintenance of equipment,” said Mr Benson.