IMSTUS has committed itself to providing in-service programmes in Mathematics and the Natural Sciences to teachers in disadvantaged communities; providing an intensive year-long bridging programme to improve the access of educationally disadvantaged students to higher education in Mathematics and Science related fields: ensuring relevance and sustainability in a changing education environment; integrating research, community interaction, teaching and learning and building meaningful partnerships with funders and other stakeholders.
It does all this through the following programmes:
IMSTUS launched the SciMathUS (Science and Mathematics at Stellenbosch University) Bridging Programme in 2001, also largely funded by the private sector. This intensive, holistic year-long programme caters for talented and motivated students who have been disadvantaged by the country's school legacy and as a result did not qualify for admission into higher education.
Students have a choice between a Science and Mathematics stream and an Accounting and Mathematics stream. Between 2001 and 2010 577 students successfully completed the programme. During the past three years the programme has had a 100% pass rate and an average improvement in the three subjects of 15 percentage points per subject each year.
A total of 366 students have since been admitted to SU. Between 2005 and 2010 71 students graduated and 13 completed postgraduate studies in Science, Engineering and Commerce related fields. Two of these 13 students have also completed Master's degrees. Both are currently enrolled in PhD degree programmes.
The SMILES and CLIMMB projects
In 2009 the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands started funding the Systemic Education and Extramural Development and Support (SEEDS) consortium. The project encompasses the four universities in the Western Cape, together with six additional education service providers, working in close collaboration to develop and support education in the province – from pre-primary support to postgraduate studies. Stellenbosch University manages the funding of the SEEDS consortium. For more on the SEEDS initiative, visit www.sun.ac.za/seeds
The SMILES (Sciences and Mathematics Initiative for Learners and Educators) project is a school intervention involving Grade 4-12 teachers in ten primary and five secondary schools in the Kraaifontein, Paarl and Stellenbosch areas. It involves the development of the educators' content knowledge, as well as their skills in teaching Mathematics, Mathematical Literacy, Natural Sciences, Physical Sciences and Life Sciences. Tutoring is offered at workshops and cluster meetings. This is followed up by classroom visits where facilitators assist the teachers individually. For the sake of learners IMSTUS assists the schools in establishing science clubs.
In 2010 this initiative was significantly enhanced by the addition of the CLIMMB (Curriculum, Literacy, Mathematics and Management Buzz) project, funded by the DG Murray Trust, in the aforementioned SMILES schools. This combined project offers Numeracy and Literacy enhancement in the primary schools and Curriculum Leadership tutoring to teachers from the Foundation Phase to Grade 12 in all 15 schools. While IMSTUS offers the Numeracy instruction, the Literacy coaching is offered by BlendED and the Curriculum Leadership teaching by CELEMUS.
Eskom EXPO for Young Scientists in the Stellenbosch region
Scientific investigation and project work form an integral part of what learners are doing in school. The Expo offers learners the opportunity and a platform to exhibit their research and be judged by teachers from the various schools, academic staff members of Stellenbosch University and representatives of the private sector. In collaboration with the Faculty of Science, IMSTUS annually organises the Stellenbosch regional competition. In preparation for participation in the regional competition, the Institute offers training to learners and their teachers to enhance their research skills.
Accredited ACE programme for teachers
IMSTUS offers two alternatives for teachers to formally improve their professional development: the formal, SAQA-accredited Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) to teachers with a professional education qualification and short courses. The ACE is a two year academic programme for in-service teachers. The aim of the programme is to improve the content knowledge and didactical skills of the teachers, to coach them as subject leaders in their field and to establish networks of support among the teachers.
IMSTUS is responsible for the teaching offered in Life and Physical Sciences, Mathematical Literacy and Mathematics.
Accredited short courses are also offered by IMSTUS.
Everyone is aware of the crisis in Education in South Africa and the fact that it has to be addressed and resolved collaboratively. By expanding the Institute's work to include formal research and also in view of its experience in skills and capacity building of 34 years, IMSTUS is able to make an even more worthwhile contribution on a longer term basis.
West Coast project
One IMSTUS facilitator supports 18 primary and four high schools in the Vredendal area and represents the University in this remote area. With the continued interest and support of Exxaro/Namakwa Sands as well as the persistent, flexible and hands-on methodology, the identified needs of teachers, learners and other stakeholders are being addressed.
In the Wen-Wen project, IMSTUS aims to bridge the gap for learners between primary and secondary school. Forty learners and their teachers from 4 primary schools in the Stellenbosch area attend Mathematics and Natural Science sessions twice a week after school hours. By exposing the teachers to a range of different teaching strategies, they are empowered to capacitate all their learners to also benefit from this intervention.
New initiatives are constantly being investigated.