Against almost impossible odds, PROTEC’s 2020 matriculants achieved a 100% pass rate because the non-profit organisation, which develops maths and science competence in under-resourced high schools around South Africa, pulled out the stops to adapt to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions – and delivered support, resources and tuition to all its learners throughout 2020.
The 283 matriculants from 75 high schools around the country achieved a total of 447 distinctions and a remarkable 83% bachelor pass rate.
PROTEC, established 1982, is committed to developing competence in maths, physical science, English and World of Work in young people to ensure success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers. They work primarily with learners who have the potential to improve their performance, and with educators to enhance the quality of teaching.
PROTEC matriculant participants are from high schools serviced by eight branches – seven in KwaZulu-Natal (Tongaat, Inanda and KwaMashu, Mandeni, Stanger, Umbogintwini, Umkomaas and Umlazi areas) and one in Nelspruit in Mpumalanga; as well as two projects based in Tembisa in Gauteng and in Kutama in northern Limpopo.
Balan Moodley, PROTEC’s CEO, explains that the organisation recognised the need to quickly make radical changes to their tuition methods from face-to-face interactions with the learners at Saturday school, vac school, through participation in relevant events and outings, to what became primarily online activities for much of 2020. As soon as they could, PROTEC instituted a hybrid teaching method that incorporated face-to-face and online tuition, ensuring all Covid protocols were adhered to.
“As soon as lockdown level 5 was announced, we took action. We had to come up with a solution that included adjusting our course material to suit the changes, and training our facilitators on the revised material and on digital tuition. Extensive use was made of online meeting platforms and WhatsApp to assist the learners over this period. But despite having put this in place, our learners – all of whom are from often-severely disadvantaged communities – had no data, which we then sourced and provided to them, and many had no devices and had to wait use other family members’ devices in the evening. This meant our branch and project teams made themselves available to assist learners late into the night. This also severely affected our budget as our data SIM card costs reached over R1.1 million.”
The PROTEC 2020 matric highlights
- Top students
- LIMPOPO: Lishivha Shothodzo Sandra from Madodonga village, near Makhado, attended the PROTEC Growthpoint programme and is PROTEC’s top achiever in 2020. She earned seven distinctions and came first in the circuit, second in the district, and seventh in the province.
- GAUTENG: Machupje Tukisho Rahlangane from the General Electric programme in Tembisa achieved six distinctions.
- KWAZULU-NATAL: Vaman Ramessur from PROTEC Umkomaas achieved six distinctions, came seventh overall in KZN, and is now studying Actuarial Science at Stellenbosch University. Mgobhozi Mukeliwe Sthembile from PROTEC Tongaat achieved six distinctions and came second in the Ilembe District.
- 23 PROTEC students achieved five or more distinctions.
- 45 distinctions were achieved in maths, 42 in physical science, and 36 in English.
- PROTEC Tongaat’s 37 students achieved a 97% bachelor pass rate.
· The 30 students in the General Electric project in Tembisa achieved a 90% bachelor pass rate.
Top student Lishivha Shothodzo Sandra is extremely proud of what she accomplished. “I worked hard and I’m glad others are proud of me too. PROTEC provided the resources we needed, as well as tuition in maths, science, World of Work and English. I know if it hadn’t been for the PROTEC support, I would not have achieved these results. I’m also grateful to Growthpoint for believing in us and motivating us to do better. I believe every learner who has the opportunity to join a PROTEC programme must do so wholeheartedly. 2020 was a difficult year, but PROTEC helped the class of 2020 get great results.”
Moodley says PROTEC is hugely proud of all its learners, but particularly the matriculants. “They were quick to adapt to the changes, they often had to work under extremely difficult and cramped living conditions, they had difficulty accessing a device if they didn’t have one, there were frequent connectivity issues, they faced anxiety within their families where jobs were lost – but they rolled with the punches, worked hard, and came through shining.
“Our teams too, went the extra miles to accommodate the changes and provide alternatives if something wasn’t working, such as preparing and delivering printed out worksheets and other material to schools for collection by parents or guardians. The pandemic taught us a lot; we worked as a team from different projects with the aim of developing one solution for all, and using the knowledge and experience we’ve built up over the years, this was achieved and will continue to ensure the smooth running of our programmes.”
Professor Francis Faller, Visiting Adjunct Professor at Wits University and Higher Education representative on the PROTEC Board, says the challenges faced within the PROTEC context of delivering support and tuition into far-flung areas around South Africa were tough. “We might have expected a different set of results to the ones that were achieved by the matrics, taking into account the odds that were stacked against them. But together, the PROTEC management, tutors, funding partners and especially the learners, delivered exceptional results. We know that passing matric is but the beginning of a long life journey for these young people, and I would encourage PROTEC to continue to play a strong role in their life-long journey and embark on higher education studies. We congratulate them and wish them well – they’ve proved they have the stamina and determination to achieve.”
PROTEC successfully tracks learners from Grade 10 throughout their tertiary studies and into their careers. To date over 30 000 disadvantaged learners have successfully passed through the programme and are now qualified engineers, doctors, scientists, educators, and other professionals.