In order to tackle South Africa’s most pressing issues — youth unemployment, economic growth, and the energy crisis — it is critical to create a young population of problem-solvers who are equipped with the right skills for a rapidly changing world.
Run annually since 2010 by Primestars, the programme has proved to be a significant exam mark booster for thousands of disadvantaged matric learners from across the country. This year’s programme, with the theme “Class of 2022 #InItWithYou”, was celebrated by an event launch on 26 July and a webinar hosted by the Mail & Guardian.
Adam Kelly, Group Chief Commercial Officer at Richfield, said the event fills him with pride, and that the eduCate initiative “will touch the lives of thousands of matriculants”.
Nkosinathi Moshoana, COO, Primestars and MC at the launch event of this year’s eduCate programme, said it was a “pocket of excellence” that helps to keep the country running, and that education is “the future for South Africa”.
Primestars Managing Director Martin Sweet said: “A solid maths and science grounding is crucial, especially when it comes to acceptance for various degrees, future career success and meeting the ever-changing demands of a technological world,” said Sweet. “If our education system does not encourage the rapid development of fourth industrial revolution-linked skills, we may face a new, and worse, era of economic exclusion.”
In the eduCate screenings, students are transported to Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro cinemas across the country, where they attend “theatres of learning” for 10 consecutive sessions — five maths lessons and five science lessons — on Sunday mornings. Public schools based in townships and underserviced areas are selected with the support of the Department of Basic Education.
To increase its reach, the programme has introduced a multi-platform approach, which includes textbooks, so those who were not able to attend the cinema lessons are still able to access learning materials. During the Covid pandemic, over 30 000 learners participated in the programme, which was expanded beyond cinemas and made available via WhatsApp and the free online learning platform primestarsdigital.co.za, which was zero-rated by Cell C.
A commissioned impact report indicated that learners participating in the project in 2021 showed up to a 25% improvement, with an average minimum improvement of 10.1% in maths and science results from grade 11 end-of-year exams to the final NSC examination in matric. More than 50 000 matriculants benefitted from the programme last year, and 2022 will be the biggest implementation of the programme yet.
Sweet said: “It is imperative that the corporate world steps up and works with the government to create a skilled workforce to benefit the economy and society as a whole; and the time is now.”
Themba Nkabinde, Chief Education Specialist from the Gauteng Department of Education, said that smart-boxes have been installed in many Gauteng schools, and learners will have more access to data. “We want to instil an ethic of hard work and commitment in our learners, so they achieve top results. The public-private partnership can take us to the next level; we are indeed in this together.”
Sandi Naidoo, Head of Department for mathematics and science at Marlboro Gardens Secondary School, said: “Primestars has done a great job for educators, providing the support we don’t usually get. Programmes like this give you the edge. We have had big improvements among not only the learners, but the educators too.”
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said the programme is celebrating the “incredible milestone” of its 12th year, which has made a “massive contribution” to education. It is now available in rural areas, and the department will continue to support it.
Nomaxabiso Matjila from Liberty said her company “takes pride in supporting initiatives that have a sustainable and measurable impact” and that maths and science are essential to address the skills gap.
Babalwa Lukhwareni from Protea Chemicals, Omnia Group, said the “basics of life” depend on maths and science. She encouraged the class of 2022 to have vision and discipline.
Zanele Tshabalala from Standard Bank Group said the programme has surpassed its mandate, which is why the bank continues to support it. She encouraged the class of 2022 to keep moving forward.
Elsie Matlho from Cell C said that 70% of the company’s corporate social investment budget goes towards education, and that it has partnered with Primestars to help rural learners access education.