Source: Western Cape Provincial Government Title: Van Schalkwyk: Launch of Cape
Mathematics, Science, & Technology Academy
EXTRACT FROM SPEECH BY WESTERN CAPE PREMIER MARTHINUS VAN SCHALKWYK AT THE CAPE MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY ACADEMY, Constantia, 10 March 2003
No country can afford to fall behind in educating its children. No nation can allow its future generations to grow with anything but the very best opportunities, which they can offer. Excellence in education is not a luxury but an absolute necessity if we are to ensure the future of our province and our people in the Western Cape. iKapa eliHlumayo, growing and developing the Cape, has today taken a leap into the future with the official launch of our new Cape Mathematics, Science, and Technology Academy.
In comparison to most other countries - and particularly to our major trading partners - the standard of science, maths and technology in South African schools is very poor. Yet these are the very subjects, which drive economic growth, empowerment and development. We rank last of the 39 participating countries in Grade 8 maths and science literacy, and the low pass rate for matric maths and science on the Higher Grade is a cause for grave concern. Part of the problem has been the approach to solving these issues in the past. Too often education departments have had to do too much for too many learners with too few resources.
Today we mark a turning point and a major milestone in Western Cape education. We celebrate a critical new tool, which will help us to develop learners with the skills and knowledge to confidently compete with the best that the rest of the world has to offer. It is my great pleasure to officially declare this Academy open.
With sufficient classrooms to eventually accommodate about 350 learners, the first intake of 200 students will be in 2004. These will be gifted learners from grades 10 to 12 who show exceptional promise in these core subjects, and they will be drawn from all communities - but particularly from our disadvantaged areas. They will be offered the normal academic curriculum for their grades, but with a very strong focus on Higher Grade maths, natural science, and technology. The curriculum will also be expanded to include the economic sciences and subjects like astronomy and space science. Ultimately, the purpose will be to prepare our learners for great success at university level in these fields, and to lead our economic growth and development after their education is complete.
The first half of 2003 will be devoted to getting the Academy ready for next year. Management staff will be appointed in the very near future, with the rest of the staff team starting in the final term of this school year. Only the very best staff will be considered for places at the Academy - and the quality of teaching will be of the highest calibre. This period will also see the further equipping of the Academy. The search and selection process for candidate learners will take place in the second half of 2003. Although applications will be invited from learners across the province, it is likely that schools will be asked to identify their most promising students in these fields, who will then be screened by subject advisors. Another model for admission currently being considered is a provincial Olympiad in these subjects. The intake will also be designed to achieve a balance in terms of gender, disability, and community representation.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Minister Andr