An initiative that started as a small idea in 2000 at Albany Museum under Nonceba Shoba's leadership has grown into a fully-fledged partnership between Rhodes University and GADRA Education. According to one of the coordinators, Mrs Joyce Sewry, the Club, which started with grade 7 learners from Makhanda local schools was created to excite the learners to consider doing and improving maths and science. e is prof Ken Ngcoza, and Babsy of GADRA is Babsy Makombe
In its second year, the Club saw growth as the grade 8 learners wanted to continue with the Club, and it accommodated learners from grade 7 to 12. “We invited Rhodes University volunteers to join us, and we had lessons from various departments at the University. All Rhodes University staff from various Departments in the Faculty of Science came to assist. We wanted to show the learners that science is not only in the textbooks or classroom but is all around us,” explained Mrs Sewry.
When Ms Shoba left Albany Museum, research groups from Chemistry Department, took turns to run the club. Last year, the club started working with GADRA Education, and this updated the model it had been using. “We invited grade 8 and 9 learners from the Vice Chancellor’s Education initiative. GADRA provided transport, and this helped us reduce the number of dropouts. We received a high number of volunteers from the Rhodes University Community Engagement team. The partnership with GADRA Education helps us track the learners as this used to be a challenge and we are thankful to Babsy Makombe for her hard work and dedication. Professor Ken Ngcoza from the Education Department brought in all the Postgraduate Certificate in Education students who were doing maths and science,” added Mrs Sewry.
She said that the Club has and is continuing to give opportunities to the local learners and expose them to platforms such as SciFest, laboratories and computer labs for a hands-on experience. The Club arranges yearly educational trips for the learners. The learners even corresponded with students from Wales, which resulted in one of the learners, Siyabulela Nomoyi, studying in Rome. One of the former participants of the Club is Rhodes University’s academic, Thandi Nqowana.
Due to COVID-19 and the national lockdown regulations, the Club has been downloading lessons onto SD cards for the learners, so they can continue their studies. The Club has been receiving funding from Shuttleworth Foundation and Professor Tebello Nyokong, a Distinguished Professor in Chemistry at Rhodes University.
“We would like to thank all who have been involved over the past 21 years, volunteers, academics, Makhanda residents, funders and the learners themselves for making the Club so successful and sustainable. We look forward to many more years of collaboration from all sectors of Makhanda” said Mrs Joyce.