Maths & Science Leadership Academy
“I’ve always had a calling to work with underprivileged kids,” says Anne McLean. “I even took isiXhosa lessons so I could teach in the Transkei.” As a qualified maths teacher and school principal, Anne always dreamed of one day starting a project to unlock the potential of gifted children.
In 2004, not in the Transkei but in the diamond town of Kimberley, Anne’s dream came true. Working in conjunction with the Northern Cape Department of Education, Anne’s project (previously named the M² Coffee Shop) is a supplementary programme of weekly after-school lessons and holiday schools which supports 240 selected learners from surrounding high schools. “M² stands for Maths x Music,” explains Anne. “They both come from the same side of the brain.” So that’s why a group of learners is noisily counting out a dance routine to some loud beat music. Anne is emphatic: “These are kids and learning should be fun!”
Anne introduces me to Goodwill Tshekela (19) of Galeshewe, an impoverished township of Kimberley. Before joining the Maths and Science Leadership Academy, Goodwill was just cruising at school, but this programme “ignited a love for maths and science,” he says. In 2010 he was the only matriculant in the Northern Cape to achieve 100% in maths. Anne bubbles with ideas and there are already more programmes in the pipeline. “I just dream it and God makes it happen,” she says.
Since 2010 the Old Mutual Foundation has invested R674 440 for 60 learners to attend the Academy over a period of four years from Grade 9 through to Grade 12. Currently these Old Mutual learners are in their third year of support. Learners from disadvantaged backgrounds are selected to participate in the Maths and Science Leadership Academy based on their maths and science potential, their commitment to hard work and their willingness to help other children.