Promaths is a programme that provides extra tuition in maths, science and technology to learners in grades 10 to 12 at select schools across the country. It began in 2005 when Investec, in partnership with Kutlwanong, established the first centre in Dobsonville, Soweto. The initial objective of the programme was to develop a sustainable maths and science learner performance support model that could be replicated across the country, to benefit as many learners as possible. Having succeeded in this immediate goal, 17 years later Investec now supports 10 Promaths centres countrywide, with a capacity for more than 5 000 learners benefitting from extra lessons provided over weekends and school holidays.
Setlogane Manchidi, Head of Corporate Social Investment (CSI) at Investec, explains that the two new Promaths locations were selected specifically given the need in these provinces which have been experiencing the lowest maths and science National Senior Certificate performance in recent years.
In 2021, 44 874 learners wrote mathematics in Limpopo and only 8 734 of them or 19.5% managed to obtain a mark of 50%. In the same year, 36 659 learners wrote physical science and only 23.8% of them obtained a mark of 50% and above. In the Eastern Cape, 43 886 learners wrote mathematics and only 7 032 (16%) managed to obtain 50% and above, while 30 738 learners wrote physical science with only 21.2% or 6 505 students obtaining 50% or above.
“While Investec funds 10 out of 16 active Promaths centres, other funders have since come on board in support of a working model that is proven to deliver results. In this worthy cause, we invite other South African corporates, organisations, and individuals to partner with Kutlwanong in possibly extending the Promaths network as widely as possible as one of the most secure means of creating economically active citizenry,” says Manchidi.
Last year 4 018 Investec-funded learners participated in Promaths online, while the Promaths programme itself contributed 5% of South Africa’s national distinctions in maths and science in 2021.
Addressing societal challenges
As an extension to the maths and science focus, Investec has also launched its Promaths Social Challenge which aims to position learners as agents of social change.
Investec Promaths learners - supported by its alumni and Investec staff as mentors and advisers in the latter stages – can join the Challenge by identifying and proposing possible solutions for a social challenge in education, environmental conservation, or youth unemployment.
The most promising and convincing submissions will be shortlisted and afforded time for final polishing with the help of Investec staff and Promaths alumni before being invited to a virtual presentation where a panel of final round judges will decide on the top three. The learner teams will at all times be in charge of the thought process.
The top three will then be awarded monetary prizes to benefit their schools in the amounts of:
First place: R250 000
Second place: R150 000
Third place: R100 000
Manchidi explains that the Social Challenge dovetails with Investec’s approach to CSI, which focuses on education and entrepreneurship. “We believe initiatives in these two areas are the most effective way to create employment, wealth creation and socio-economic growth in South Africa. The overall aim is to create opportunities for young people to become active participants in society, rather than merely living off it, and what better way than to hear their ideas and suggested solutions.”
“Promaths is about more than just the maths and science distinctions. It is a platform to build well-rounded and responsible future leaders. The Social Challenge presents an ideal opportunity for our learners to enhance their interpersonal skills while fostering a strong culture of social responsibility, innovation, creativity, and critical thinking among other important professional development skills.”
The Challenge is timed to culminate in October, which is Social Development month, running from its official launch on 8 August until the final adjudication and announcement of the top three teams on 12 October 2022.
“Notwithstanding the potential for prize money, the emphasis of this challenge will at all times be on the learning process and overall journey and associated experience. Inviting young people to weigh in on a topic critical to their country’s economic development not only unlocks transformational thinking, but inspires them to change the world,” concludes Manchidi.