Investec dedicates 46% of its entire corporate social investment budget to programmes that build science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) learning.
Its ProMaths programme was a finalist in the 2013 Investing in the Future Education Award, and this year it came out tops for its sustained support and clear evidence of the results pupils are showing in their pass marks.
ProMaths is operated in partnership with the Kutlwanong Maths, Science and Technology Centre. The programme offers extra maths and science tuition for grade 10, 11 and 12 pupils.
“We recognise that increasing the numbers of high-calibre university graduates is ultimately dependent on a solid secondary school education, as well as maths and science support initiatives extended to students while at university,” said Setlogane Manchidi, head of the Investec CSI programme.
“Our intention is to contribute towards the development of professionals and future leaders who not only become active economic participants in society, but also contribute to the upliftment of others.”
The programme was initially piloted in Soweto in 2005 and has produced amazing results over the past nine years, proving it to be one of the most successful high school maths and science interventions in the country.
Since its launch it has spread to seven centres across the country, catering to 3 300 pupils annually.
Recognising that the subjects taught are only as good as the teachers imparting that knowledge, ProMaths is supplemented by Investec’s support of the Independent Schools of South Africa teacher internship initiative to develop maths, English and science teachers.
“We annually collate the results of all our beneficiaries and get a sense of how well our teacher interns are doing though their academic results,” said Manchidi. “We also commission independent reviews of our initiatives.”
The ultimate motivation behind supporting these programmes, he said, is the need within corporate South Africa to be able to access well-educated individuals in order for their businesses to succeed.
“Education is equally important for the long-term economic growth prospects of our country. Short-term requirements demand tertiary education skills, but in the longer term, the schooling system should generate pupils who are competent in English, maths and science with an aspiration to proceed beyond matric,” he said.
This forms the base that allows the country’s youth to make informed career decisions, access tertiary education and pursue qualifications in the financial sector.
A recent study by CSI consultancy Trialogue on the success of the ProMaths programme showed that more than 80% of pupils said their marks had improved since starting it, with half reporting improvements in their marks of 30% to 50%.
An important indicator of the opportunities this presents is that 96% said they wished to further their studies by attending university.