Taking Science to the communities and equipping South Africa’s future scientists

The University of the Western Cape’s Science Learning Centres for Africa (in the Faculty of Education) opened 9 Science Learning Centres in schools across the Western Cape this week.


These nine schools will bring the total SLCs constructed at schools since 2011 to 57.


The University of Western Cape (UWC) continues to enhance the teaching and learning of science through the initiative of the UWC-SLCA. The UWC-SLCA partners with the Garden Cities Archway Foundation and the provincial education department.


Professor Vivienne Lawack, Deputy Vice Chancellor: Academic, said the University is proud to be involved in the project - which shows collaboration and partnership in active community involvement. Prof Lawack emphasized the importance of education referring to a Japanese belief that no person in a true community will end up illiterate.


Professor Shaheed Hartley, Director of the Science Learning Centre for Africa at UWC said the centre initiated to develop and support the teaching and learning of science, bringing better opportunities for the pupils of the schools across the country.


“The centres will act as an incubator in which a passion for science will be cultivated. It places the schools in a better position to teach science as it should be taught - practically. Schools back in the day were not built with resources worthy of translating the study theory into practically. Every year schools are compared by their grade 12 results - but when you take into account school resources - the success of schools cannot be measured by their matric results only,” Prof Hartley said.


Prof Hartley said the schools now have the resources and the space to take advantage of opportunities to improve physical science results and encourage pupils to want to learn science.


The SLCs - equipped with smartboards, microscopes, and more - are constructed to give support and training to practicing science educators, to get learners involved in science activities, and to allow both learners and teachers to work and experiment in a safe environment. The construction of the SLCs is an extension of the curriculum support provided by UWC-SLCA and serve as reward for committed science teachers, school management and learners. The achievement of learners and teachers in national and international benchmark tests paints a very bleak picture and one that highlights a national crisis.


Professor Vuyokazi Nomlomo Dean of Education said the centre is focussed on teaching and learning which is a key component of education.


Garden Cities-Archway Foundation chairperson Myrtle February regards the welcome additions as a reward the welcome additions as a reward rather than a gift.


UWC-SLCA in partnership with Garden Cities Archway Foundation and the Western Cape Education Department started a process of reconstructing science labs called science learning centres (SLCs) at Western Cape schools. Each partner contributes one-third of the costs associated with the SLCs.

Elaine Nefdt, science teacher at Strand Secondary School, with (from left) Reagan Maasdorp, Lukhangele Landu, Henry Maposa, Luluthando Nongalo, Kyle Fortuin, Shane Stuurman,Nomqhele Dlamini, Armando Sibanda, Georgia Nkosi and Chantel Muzembe.


The University of the Western Cape’s Science Learning Centre for Africa (UWC-SLCA) has won a number of awards for its far-reaching support programmes to improve the teaching and learning of science and mathematics.

1.            Many South African schools just aren’t equipped to help learners develop skills in - and a love for - science. That’s why UWC-SLCA, in conjunction with Garden Cities Archway Foundation, has built dozens of state-of-the-art science labs. The science centres - equipped with smartboards, microscopes and more - are constructed to give support and training to practicing science educators, to get learners involved in science activities, and to allow learners and teachers to work and experiment in a safe environment...providing the opportunity for greatness for over 300 teachers and 80 000 learners.

2.            Teaching learners is one way of raising the levels of science literacy in South Africa - but teaching teachers can be even more useful. SLCA has conducted upgrading accredited short courses for FET and GET science and mathematics educators in the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, and supported educators and learners in the Cape Winelands, West Coast, South, Central and Eden Valley education districts. It is also provides ongoing CAPS curriculum training with local schools regularly visiting UWC-SLCA laboratories to conduct practical and experimental work.

3.            There’s more to tossing a paper jet than just goofing off: it needs impressive amounts of scientific, mathematical and engineering knowledge: achieving good flight requires a jet of perfect size and shape, and a well-calculated throw that takes into account wind speed, direction, obstacles. That’s why the SLCA hosts an annual Paper Jet Competition, giving teams of learners the chance to compete in designing (and flight-testing) the best plane. The SLCA also supports robotics, and hosts an annual science competition for science clubs in the Western Cape.


Want to know more? Visit the Science Learning Centre For Africa Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/slca.ac.za/) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ...and find out how science, maths and education can make the world a better and more interesting place.


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