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African maths teachers learn from Coventry schools

Four teachers from South Africa received a warm welcome to Warwick this week, as they embarked on a two-week programme to experience teaching practices in the UK.

The teacher exchange forms part of a wider project named ‘Warwick in Africa’, originating in 2006 when the University of Warwick sent 12 maths students to teach in suburban and township schools across Johannesburg with the aim of making a positive contribution in Africa. The scheme has proved such a success that last year organisers decided to bring a group of African educators over to Britain to learn British methods of teaching.

This year’s participants, Mr Frank Phalane, Ms Phumzile Mthiyane, Ms Palesa Mazibuko and Mr Elliot Banda, all teach maths to secondary school pupils in Johannesburg and are hoping to take a wealth of educational knowledge and experiences away with them.

Mr Elliot Banda said: “We are all delighted to be able to take part in the Warwick in Africa teacher exchange programme. We hope to learn new methods of teaching Maths during our time here, which can be shared with our colleagues and learners back in South Africa.

“We want to explore the English curriculum as compared to the South African one, and have already noticed that there are new topics in our curriculum which have been taught for many years in England.

“We have had very useful discussions with teachers in local primary schools and academics from the University of Warwick, and have experienced first-hand how teachers use advanced technology to help them teach (including, interactive whiteboards, laptops and projectors, etc).”

During the programme, the four teachers will spend time visiting a number of local schools including, Grange Farm Primary School, Coundon Court School, Finham Park School, Westwood School, Tudor Grange School and Caludon Castle School.

But it is clear that the project would not be able to go ahead if it wasn’t for the continued generosity and financial support from friends and alumni of the University, companies, foundations and trusts.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift said: “The first year’s work was funded entirely by the philanthropic support of alumni and friends of the University of Warwick, and one donor in particular.

“With extra funding secured from the Barclays Capital Foundation in 2007, Warwick managed to double the number of students we sent to South Africa and gathered the resources to expand beyond South Africa to send a group of students to teach in the schools of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We now bring teachers from South Africa over to Britain to experience UK teaching.

“This project reaffirms Warwick’s commitment to access to education and its international vision. Assisting the education of school children in South Africa in this way means Warwick can really make a difference.”

Notes to editors        

  • The ‘Warwick in Africa’ teaching project has been set up to enable University of Warwick students who have completed their teacher training or taken part in the Student Associate Scheme in the Warwick Institute of Education to teach maths in schools in Africa. In 2009, for the fourth consecutive year, maths and science students from the University of Warwick will work in schools in Alexandra and Soweto         
  • The four teachers will be at University of Warwick between 27th September and 10th October 2009
  • Activities include the following: visiting schools for 11 – 18 years old in the vicinity of the University to look at the UK National Curriculum for maths, resources and teaching methods, holding discussions with staff and pupils and observing lessons; seeing how maths teachers are trained in the UK; visiting primary schools to look at the primary curriculum for maths and how it feeds secondary curriculum to ensure effective transition from primary to secondary education; meeting faculty staff in the Institute of Education to discuss teaching methods; meeting staff from the Mathematics Institute with specialisms in teaching; meeting staff from the wider university community; and cultural activities including visiting the theatre, historic buildings etc
  • Funding for the programme comes from friends and alumni of the University of Warwick and various companies, foundations and trusts including, Barclays Capital and the ExPat Foundation. Anyone wishing to make a donation should contact Mary McGrath via email at: mary.mcgrath@warwick.ac.uk         
  • Further information on ‘Warwick in Africa’ can be found at: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/alumni/giving/vision2015/responsibility/africa/ 

For further information please contact: 

Natalie Field, Assistant Press Officer

Communications Office, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 8UW

Email: natalie.field@warwick.ac.uk 

Tel: +44 (0)24 7657 5601  Mobile/Cell: +44 (0)7824 541 142 

Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift meets South African maths teachers