NGO lends hand to disadvantaged learners, leads to 100% pass rate

Matriculants looking for their names in the paper. Picture: Timothy Bernard African news Agency (ANA)

Matriculants looking for their names in the paper. Picture: Timothy Bernard African news Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 15, 2023



Johannesburg - Matric pupils from all over South Africa have achieved exceptional results through the intervention of PROTEC, a 40-year-old NPO that provides educational support in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills subjects.

For the academic year 2022, the results from PROTEC’s class include a 100% pass rate, 83% bachelor’s pass, 293 distinctions, four learners with seven distinctions, and one learner, who was considered the top learner, achieved 99% for maths and 100% for physical sciences.

More than 30 000 disadvantaged learners have successfully passed through the PROTEC programme since 1982 and are now qualified engineers, doctors, scientists and other professionals.

PROTEC is a national NPO established by the South African Institute of Civil Engineers in Soweto in 1982, which runs educational support programmes for disadvantaged youngsters with potential in maths and science to prepare them for successful STEM careers.

The CEO of PROTEC, Balan Moodley, said that the idea to start a maths and science programme was rooted in the apartheid days with the vision of the members of the SA Institute of Civil Engineering in the country.

“To achieve that vision there was a need to improve the maths and science results of learners, thereby allowing them to pursue engineering careers.”

According to Moodley, few disadvantaged scholars pass or even write key gateway matric subjects of maths and science. “This means they tend to finish their school years with no opportunity to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology fields. PROTEC’s vision has always been to empower these young South Africans who have the requisite potential with optimal education and life skills to succeed in STEM-based careers,” he said.

Moodley further indicated that there is a dire need to improve maths and science in the country. He said that building our nation requires a concerted effort to increase the number of learners taking up pure maths and physical sciences.

“Improving the results in these two crucial subjects to build the workforce that the country requires, and boost entrepreneurship to help alleviate unemployment.”

The PROTEC learner excellence programme is a hybrid model with the delivery of lessons through a Saturday school programme, holiday school programme, and virtual lessons through the PROTEC e-learning platform.

“Our focus is to supplement that which is done at school with a focus on the more difficult topics and higher weighted content. The subjects that we offer through our programmes are mathematics, physical sciences, English as a First Additional language, and our programme called the world of work, which is life skill-based and helps to prepare the learners for tertiary education and work environment,” he said.

Luyanda Mamane, a graduate of the PROTEC programme who qualified as an aeronautical engineer, shared how the programme helped her regain academic confidence and feel like she belonged in school back in 2011.

“I wasn’t really confident or social, and I preferred working alone all the time. In the programme, apart from academic improvement, I learnt to trust myself and my confidence was boosted. Not only does the programme benefit learners academically, but it also links them with like-minded people. If possible, it would be amazing if the programme could reach more learners,” said Mamane.

Currently, the said programme does not receive any financial assistance from the government; however, they do enjoy the government’s support in working in the public schools with a strong focus on the quintile one to three schools.

“The need to support learners, especially from our disadvantaged communities, is unquestionable for the future. We would therefore want to see greater support for programmes like PROTEC and greater collaboration with the Department of Basic Education to find a long-lasting solution to this problem,” said Moodley.