The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Chemistry Department is taking school engagement to another level. They are offering Chemistry and Physics practical lessons to local feeder high schools, this is after they recognised that there is a knowledge gap in these subjects for leaners in high schools prior to their enrolment in higher education.
According to Chemistry Department’s Dr Sabelo Myalo their community engagement with schools is the programme which started back in 2017, where they were doing science awareness during the National Science Week. “But, we had to change our objectives and align the programme with the syllabus as we were getting numerous requests to assist with practical lessons that are part of the school-based assessment. During the recent June –July vacation period, we were fortunate enough to be able to go outside Durban, visiting schools at eMpangeni (Ndlangubo), Jozini (Umkhonjini), Ladysmith (Steadville) and Bergville,” he said.
Dr Myalo said their engagement with learners is comprehensive and goes beyond just Physics and Chemistry. “Apart from getting learners through their paces with syllabus related content, we do motivations and address questions related to applications and enrolment to any universities in general,” he said.
DUT Masters programme student, Lyndon Naidoo also shared his own story with learners during their recent visit to eMpangeni, Mathubu Centre. “I myself have been funded by NSFAS in my undergraduate level as well as by NRF in my postgraduate years (BTech and currently Masters). You need to be aware of such opportunities and apply, because we all want a chance in our lives to make a good impression for our community and contribute to the development of our country, while making a good living. But, the first step is to perform your best in matric, as that is the stepping stone towards the rest of your careers,” he advised.
Dr Myalo said they have identified lack of resources as the main challenge facing most of the schools that they visit, adding that another challenge is that they are based in remote locations away from major urban areas. “So, a possible solution would be to set up a “mobile lab”, that will enable us to carry more equipment required for these experiments,” he stressed.
He also added that based on their interactions with these schools they have discovered that there is a significant necessity for the continuous provision of such programmes and interventions.
The DUT’s Chemistry Department team consists of Prof Phumlane Mdluli, Dr Sabela Myalo, Dr Talent Makhanya, Mr Sandile Sithole, and Mr Zamo Miya. Mr Benni Hloma, Mr Nduduzo Gumede and Mr Lyndon Naidoo.
Pictured: Learners participating in practical lessons for Physics and Chemistry, facilitated by DUT’s Chemistry Department.