IOP for Africa, South Africa project

20 September 2016

Professor David Wolfe, one of the volunteer coordinators for the IOP for Africa project, visited South Africa in June 2016 to run further practical physics teacher training as part of the IOP’s capacity building activities.

The training began in Johannesburg at St John’s College with a two-day workshop for local teachers. Seventy-five teachers in total attended and various sessions were delivered including a session on women in physics, talks and discussions on pedagogy, particularly versions of Peer Instruction, which is an aspect that the IOP and the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP) have been emphasising.

The next stop was the University of Cape Town to take part in the SAIP’s general meeting. During the meeting Wolfe was able to deliver training sessions on teaching techniques with emphasis on areas that teachers felt they struggled with. The training then continued in Soweto with more than 100 teachers attending a four-day workshop that also focused on developing the skills required for teaching, following on from previous workshops run in partnership with the Soweto Science Centre.

The interest in the IOP’s practical physics teacher training continues to grow with ambitions for the training to extend to the Eastern Cape, to the southeast of the country and into the Limpopo province in the far north. There are initial thoughts within both the IOP and its partners in Cape Town to develop the programme further but, as with many international projects; it is a question of sustainability and resource. The ultimate goal is for the training to be delivered by teachers in South Africa, and we are currently working towards this by training young teachers who can take on the responsibility of running the project. Wolfe has been working closely with two graduates from the University of Johannesburg to make that a reality. Thus far including teachers to deliver the training has been successful and is an activity that will continue.

Our plans for the future include continuing to train local teachers and also to branch out into different schools. At present the training focuses on teachers from townships and we would like to include teachers from rural areas to ensure the training is as wide spread as possible. The IOP and its in-country partners plan to run further training in 2017.