The Ukuqonda Institute
The vision of the Ukuqonda Institute is to promote excellence in the field of mathematics, physical science and technology education at all education levels in southern Africa.
Ukuqonda, as its name (which means “to understand”) implies, focuses strongly on learning with conceptual understanding and the development of key concepts, rather than a narrow focus on preparing learners for tests and examinations. In practical terms this means engagement of learners in meaningful tasks which provide them with opportunities to make sense of subject content and provides space for own thinking. We actively pursue ways of developing responsibility for own learning, self-reliance and initiative in learners.
Specifically, learners need to be led to pursue mathematic/science (including real-life) problems and questions with a view to produce solutions and answers which make sense to them. This means that learners need to be weaned from the predominant current learning culture of simply trying to establish what actions the teacher wants them to perform, without any real attempt to make sense of questions and problems or the logic and purpose of the actions; and thoughtless practising of demonstrated processes while remaining dependent on the teacher to inform them whether their working and end-results are correct (“rote learning”).
The Ukuqonda Institute currently intervenes with groups of Mathematics, Physical Science, Technology educators and learners in high schools and primary schools in rural and semi-rural areas of the Northwest, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.
In these interventions, educators and learners are engaged in the following activities:
- Mathematics, Physical Science and Technology workshops, with a view to promote teachers’ own subject knowledge and proficiency, and the richness and depth of their views on an appreciation of especially Mathematics and Physical Science.
- Pedagogy workshops, where teachers are trained to present specific topics in specific ways during vacation schools for learners.
- Presentation of mathematics and physical science workshops to learners during vacation schools, using innovative materials and approaches.
- Diagnostic assessment of learners.
- Seminars addressing theoretical aspects of mathematics and physical science education.