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Ten years of targeting talent

- Wits University

The Targeting Talent Programme (TTP) at Wits this year celebrates 10 years of grooming talented high school learners.

Launched in 2007 by the Student Equity and Talent Management Unit (SETMU) at Wits, TTP has successfully cultivated the Maths and Science skills of learners in Grade 10, 11 and 12.

Annually, TTP hosts a winter school with learners from various parts of the country. As part of this, SETMU provides an enrichment programme for Maths and Science educators from schools that participate in the TTP.

The Educator Enrichment Programme aims to upgrade the subject specific, subject teaching and curriculum-specific knowledge of these teachers. The programme also assists in the creation of professional learning communities amongst educators to support dissemination and generation of knowledge.

The teachers on the programme gain valuable knowledge and skills from top science educators in the country.

This year, John McBride, a passionate Science and Maths teacher who has been with TTP for almost its duration, taught science methodology to high school educators in similar disciplines.

McBride is the Head of Schooling of Mindset, an educational programme on SABC television. The programme supports learners and teachers in formal schooling with a focus on Grades 10, 11 and 12 and the Maths, Sciences, Social Sciences, and Finance clusters of subjects. 

Targeting Talent educators during winter school 2017

For the TTP Educators Enrichment Programme, McBride empowers educators with the best methods to make their subjects accessible to learners and to engage learners in fun and practical ways.

“My passion is not only teaching Science, but to look at different methodologies, particularly leaning towards the integration of digital tools into the classroom and how you cross that digital divide, which is sometimes a mind shift as much as it is a physical thing. So that is what we have been playing with. We have been looking at a number of different theories of teaching and learning and recognise that we cannot allow the status quo to continue. We need to change. We need to make every effort to reach our kids and connect with them. One way of doing that is through digital communications,” says McBride.

Duduzile Magwaza, Science teacher at St Ansgar’s Secondary School in Lanseria, says this year’s winter school has been an enthralling experience.

“This year, the winter school is blowing my mind. It is challenging, interesting, and looks difficult at the same time. It is difficult but we have realised that we can do it. We are now doing things that I didn’t think I can do. It also showed us that you must not only be a routine teacher. You must be flexible.”

The teachers from Welkom High School in the Free State, Joseph Taetsane (Science) and Oscar Memane (Maths) have already started to be flexible  in their teaching methods – they  have introduced social media, such as WhatsApp group chats.

“Learners are changing. They need new ways of teaching and approaching in terms of content teaching,” says Taetsane.

Beyond Science and Maths

The TTP is an extension curriculum which supplements learners’ knowledge across all fields. In addition to the Maths, Science, and language disciplines – which are focus areas –  TTP also imparts knowledge on international relations and diversity studies.

Dr Jacqueline De Matos Ala, TTP teacher in International Relations says her class engages learners on issues beyond those discussed in the conventional classroom.

“The nice thing about this class is that we field a lot of questions, and what we decided to do is to engage on what it means to be a citizen in a democracy, how to be responsible, how do you keep government accountable, what is the role of government, and what is government supposed to do for you.”

Ala adds that her class plays a pivotal role in developing the learners’ critical thinking.  

“The TTP programme is an extension curriculum, where the learners are exposed to different things. It is a forum where you can star developing the learners’ critical thinking -  and that has a big overlap in the areas of Maths, Science, and English –how to engage with information, and what the difference is between being critical and thinking critically.”

Related articles:

TTP Interview on Morning Live

Zena Richards, Director of SETMU talks about TTP and mentor and TTP alumna, Refilwe Morapeli shares her experience about the programme on Morning Live.