A FEW weeks after being shut down because of teacher shortages, some schools in the Graaff-Reinet area have been given computer tablets to help pupils with their maths and science tutoring.
Pupils at Hoer Volkskool, Spandau and Asherville high schools could not get enough of the new devices, delving into them just minutes after receiving them.
While there is a desperate need for engineers, many schools drop maths and science due to a lack of teachers and curricular support.
To address this, oil company Chevron South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Unit (GMMDU) have partnered to launch maths and science incubator schools.
The 16-week programme offers technology-based teaching and a learning model to cover the Grade 11 and matric maths and science syllabi.
About 520 pupils from Graaff-Reinet and Cradock schools are receiving tablets offering comprehensive learning resources and tutoring at the touch of a button.
Social networking site MXit is also incorporated to help pupils assess themselves as well as test their knowledge through questions aligned to the actual curriculum.
Chevron social investment manager Miranda Anthony said with the challenges in Eastern Cape rural schools, there was a tendency to abandon the important subjects for more manageable ones.
"There has been a decline in enrolment figures for maths and science coupled with poor pass rates," she said.
"Chevron sees the value in this programme and believes the successful implementation will contribute greatly to the Education Department objectives around learner support and the overall maths and science strategy," she said.
NMMU lecturer and GMMDU head Prof Werner Olivier said over the past four years of the programme, tutoring only took place on Saturdays and did not garner the desired outcomes.
"There was an urgent need to design innovative support models to identify and nurture learners with potential in maths and science.
"The touch-screen tablet brought about the opportunity to implement improved learner support programmes which consolidated all the electronic resource material and ensured flexible sharing and access," Olivier said.