Wherever Investec’s Promaths initiative has been implemented, matriculant performance has shown a clear upward curve. The group is confident that private and public partnerships will boost this trend even more.
Investec has always valued education and wanted to make a difference where it was needed most: to increase the Maths and Science results of learners in Matric. In 2005, the company started to sponsor extra Maths and Science lessons to address the poor performance of matriculants in these subjects. From these efforts, a model was birthed called Promaths.
Today, Promaths is an award-winning model generating wonderful independent reviews that testify to its success and impact. Two independent reviews by Trialogue and Rachel Croft Consultancy both attested to how effective and impactful this model is.
Promaths comprises, in essence, extra Maths and Science lessons which were initially offered over the holidays. However, it soon grew into something far bigger and more impactful.
In the early stages, we realised that there were not enough adequately qualified Maths and Science teachers. Many public schools were overcrowded and there were not enough teachers to ensure that children receive individual attention. Learners were not always supported with the necessary study materials and aids, such as textbooks, study guides and calculators. There was also not enough contact time spent on these subjects.
We realised that many schools were unable to complete the syllabus by the end of the year, which meant that learners were falling behind and, by the time they reached Grade 10 or 12, they had a Maths and Science education deficit.
These challenges determined how we should approach the Promaths model. Firstly, we made the classes smaller; every learner was provided with study material and we increased contact time spent on subjects over weekends.
This led to astounding results. At our eight centres, we matriculate around 1 200 learners on average per year, but from that number, we contribute 5% of the national distinctions.
In 2008, we also created incentive models for learners who do well, such as taking them out to dinner or for a ride on the Gautrain. We also offered end-of-the-year awards where learners who performed well would receive prizes such as laptops. These incentives inspired every learner in our programme to do their best and perform well, and the results showed this.
The model performed so well that Investec decided to replicate it and establish eight centres countrywide. Based on the results we were achieving, we partnered with other companies who also created their own Promaths centres.
We also partnered with the Free State Department of Education and took the model to this province that normally had poor results. Since then, for a number of years, the Free State has been the top-performing province in Maths and Science Matric results.
This year, we are opening two more centres in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape to ensure that these poor-performing provinces can also benefit from this successful programme.
In 2017, we launched the Promaths Bursary Fund, in addition to Investec’s current bursary fund. It is available to learners who went through the Promaths programme and then choose to study in any field that has Maths as a prerequisite.
We also launched the Promaths Alumni University Fund to create a sense of support and belonging amongst Promaths learners from vulnerable backgrounds who often lack the support and resources they need to achieve success.
In a sense, it is a home away from home. This initiative is responsible for orientating newcomers, offering support including tutorials and making sure that members are successful and have all that they need to complete their studies successfully.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Promaths Online was launched and today, Promaths offers a hybrid model to make accessibility easier.
Based on the proven success of Promaths, we believe there is room for public and private partnerships. We believe that Promaths can make a big and impactful difference in more learners’ lives – but we need companies and other entities to join us in taking this model to every public school in the nation that needs help with their Maths and Science results.