The Garden Cities Archway Foundation, established 16 years ago to alleviate the enormous shortfall of school halls in the Western Cape, also collaborates with a UWC programme aimed at redressing the low levels of science and maths skills.
The Archway Foundation is among the institutions providing funds not only to help train the teachers, but to fit and equip science laboratories in the schools.
The science learning centres are provided complete with the entire infrastructure that includes hardware, equipment and chemicals, as well as the training of teachers in their use.
The programme was initiated by Professor Shaheed Hartley, Director of the Science Learning Centre for Africa in the faculty of Education the University of the Western Cape (UWC). It enhances the skills in science teachers to enable them to bring science and maths to acceptable levels in junior schools.
Now, tens of thousands of Western Cape children have access to the science laboratories that they lacked. The programme is planned to continue its work for the foreseeable future.
In the laboratories, 40 to 50 children at a time can receive science instruction at modular octagonal workstations, and teaching is done with the assistance of an interactive whiteboard on to which lessons are downloaded. Practical demonstrations are given with chemicals and equipment also provided by donor funds.
Professor Hartley both devised the programme and designed the laboratories that have been put into existing classrooms in the chosen schools.
The programme includes training sessions for teachers and the establishment of science clubs at schools. An annual inter-school science competition also helps identify the schools that are most likely to benefit from the science laboratory programme.
The Board of Garden Cities believes that the participation of the company and Foundation in education initiatives ensures the enhancement of skills in the trades, and that this in turn improves the quality of the work eventually done on building and development projects that are core to its business.