Denel Dynamics tutors disadvantaged students


Denel says tutoring in science and mathematics provided by staff at its Denel Dynamics unit in their own time at a company “Saturday school” has paid off for students at the Steve Tshwete Secondary School in Olievenhoutbosch, a bustling township southwest of Pretoria.

Denel says learners from the school received assistance for four hours every Saturday. “The results were visible at the end of 2010 when the school received two distinctions in mathematics and for the first time in the history of the school two distinctions in physical science,” Denel Dynamics people development manager Venashree McPherson says.

In recognition of the achievement Denel Dynamics has awarded a bursary to the value of R90 000 to Kgaugelo Mokholwane, one of the 2010 learners from Steve Tshwete to continue his studies at tertiary level. The bursary will cover tuition fees, accommodation and books for his first year of study; and he will also be supported with mentoring and life skills training from Denel Dynamics, McPherson says in a statement issued by Denel.

School headmaster Kenneth Ndou says there has been a 30% improvement in the average mark of students for these two subjects since the joint project with Denel Dynamics was introduced in 2008.

Seventy learners from the school travel to the Denel Dynamics campus in Centurion every weekend to be tutored by the engineers of the company, best known for its manufacturing of sophisticated missiles, guided weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), he continued.

McPherson says the Saturday School for Maths was established as a project to make a valuable contribution to the development of grade 8 – 10 students in the local community. “Given the company’s profile in technology and engineering maths tutoring was an obvious initiative to tackle. Denel Dynamics has recently embarked on providing capacity building aids for science teachers and looks forward to the improvement of the quality of science. Some 44 engineers from Denel Dynamics now contribute their time and knowledge on a voluntary basis every weekend to improve understanding of maths and sciences among the learners,” she added.

Mercy Mxokozeli, the head of the department of science at Steve Tshwete said the extra weekend classes complement the teaching done at the school during regular hours. The first learners who started at the school three years ago wrote their matric exams in 2010 and the results exceeded their wildest expectations. One of the students who passed, Maifo Nesly, will start with her studies in engineering at the University of Cape Town later in this month. SRC president, Kgaugelo Mokholwane, the recipient of the Denel Dynamics bursary, ascribes his success in the matric exams to dedication, hard work and the extra tutoring he received at the Denel Dynamics Saturday School. He, too, has ambitions to continue his studies in electrical or electronic engineering, the statement continues.

McPherson says Denel Dynamics will continue to grow and expand the project with the expectations of even better results in the future. The successful matriculants were honoured at a recent function at Denel Dynamics which were also attended by the top tertiary students who receive bursaries from the companies. There are currently 55 bursary students at universities across the country studying various engineering disciplines, including aeronautical, mechanical, computer and electrical engineering. Between them the students achieved 99 distinctions during the course of the 2010 academic year.