IT was hailed as the Eastern Cape’s answer to improving matric results, but the much-vaunted Mathematics, Science and Technology Centre still remains pie in the sky.
Twice now the academy has featured in speeches by Premier Noxolo Kiviet – during her State of the Province address last year and again last week when the matric results were announced.
Some high-ranking officials even said the academy had already been established in Mthatha in 2009, but its existence still remains a mystery.
Yesterday, the Education Department was at pains to explain conflicting statements by its political principals on the planned academy.
Announcing her government plans for 2010 last February, Kiviet named the planned academy as one of their projects to spearhead teacher development and capacity building.
Months later, the then-Education MEC Mahlubandile Qwase said the academy would be fully operational by the end of last year and had been allocated R15 million.
The planned academy came against the backdrop of fluctuating matric results in the province.
In 2009, a mere 37.5 percent pass in mathematics had been recorded in the Eastern Cape. This figure marginally decreased last year by 0.19 percent.
Maths literacy improved by 8.67 percent and registered an 80 percent pass rate compared to 71.3 registered in 2009 when the province pass rate declined by 0.4 percent.
In 2009, the province recorded a 28.6 percent pass rate for physical science. At that point the pass rate had dropped by 14.8 percent from the previous year.
Speaking at a gala dinner last week, Kiviet said maths and science outcomes should be improved because they pulled down the provincial average. A new matric target was then set at 65 percent.
“To achieve this target, the province must complete the work that has been started to craft a comprehensive maths, science and technology strategy.”
New Education MEC Mandla Makupula appeared to disagree with Kiviet, saying the academy was already based in Mthatha and had been established in 2009.
“The academy promoted teacher training programmes in these subjects in close collaboration with the Education Leadership Institute,” said Makupula.
Sadtu provincial secretary Fezeka Loliwe said the union had only heard about the existence of the academy when Makupula mentioned it last week.
However, Loliwe said Mthathabased Sadtu officials had notified her that the academy was still in the pipeline.
“It’s still a structure that has to be converted into an academy,” she said, referring to the Trinset College used for workshops.
The DA’s Edmund van Vuuren said no report had ever been tabled before the portfolio committee about the academy.
“It has not been established. Some of the universities are assisting with educators’ training,” Van Vuuren said.
But department spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said the academy had been launched in 2009 in Mthatha’s Trinset before Kiviet made her announcement a year later.
“Before the Premier pronounced on it in 2010, the concept was already in existence, though still in the formative stage,” he said.
He also said the academy was not just an institution.