In this blog, Science educator, Nosimo Ndzotyana, writes about her experience with the bua-lit materials ‘iSayensi Yethu’.
Natural Sciences and Technology aims at equipping and preparing the learners for the changing world. Without any doubt we cannot resist the change where technology is taking over. Our country is facing many different challenges that need people to solve them. We rely on few people that have required skills to deal with such problems hence we import people from other countries to come to our rescue. It is now high time that we produce scientists here in South Africa. It is our duty as science teachers to present and teach sciences in a way that is interesting and clear so that the love of science does not die. Fortunately, my school has recently been flagged as a math and science focus school, so I take it as my duty to keep the subject of science alive.

Icandelo lezenzululwazi nobuchwephesha (iteknoloji) injongo yalo kukuxhobisa nokulungiselela abafundi ilizwe elitshintsha mihla le. Ngaphandle kwamathandabuzo asinakuxhathisa kutshintsho apho ubuchwephesha buthatha indawo.Iilizwe lethu lijongene nemingeni emininzi eyahlukeneyo efuna abantu abazakuza nezisombululo zayo. Sithembele kubantu abambalwa abanezakhono zokusombulula ezo ngxaki, yaye kungoko ke sibhenela ekuthengeni izinto kumanye amazwe. Kungoko kufike ixesha lokokuba ilizwe lethu livelise iingcali kwezenzululwazi. Luxanduva lwethu bootishala bezenzululwazi ukuba sibonise yaye sifundise ngohlobo olunika umdla ebantwaneni ukuze uthando lwezenzululwazi lungapheli. Sabanethamsanqa lokokuba isikolo sethu sathi sonyulwa ukuba sibe sisikolo esibalaseleyo ngezifundo zenzululwazi nezemathematiki. Yiyo loo nto iluxanduva lwam njengomfundisi-ntsapho wezenzululwazi ukugcina izifundo zenzululwazi zinika umdla.

Our country has all the materials to produce scientists, I mean problem solvers, but the question is “do learners believe in sciences?” I really don’t think these questions require any response, but they need teachers to sit and reflect on their teaching. All I can say is that it starts in the classroom, the way in which we teach learners. I am teaching at a school where the language of learning and teaching is English in the intermediate phase. In the foundation phase the Language of Teaching and Learning (LOLT) is isiXhosa, so you can imagine the transition in grade 4. In the foundation phase the learners could express themselves confidently, but sadly in grade 4 they struggle to do this.

Ilizwe lethu linazo zonke izinto ezidingekayo ukuvelisa iingcali kwezenzululwazi, nditsho abaxazululi beengxaki esijongene nazo, kodwa umbuzo uthi ingaba abafundi bayakholelwa na kwizifundo zenzululwazi? Ngenene andiqondi ukuba le mibuzo ziyayifuna impendulo, kodwa zidinga thina bootishala ukuba sihlale phantsi sizihlole sijonge indlela esifundisa ngayo abantwana. Into endizama ukuyithetha kukuba yonke into iqala egumbini lokufundela ngohlobo esifundisa ngalo abafundi. Ndifundisa kwisikolo apho ulwimi lokufundisa isisiNgesi ukuqala kwibanga lesine ukuya kwelesixhenxe. Ungazicingela nawe indlela olu tshintsho lumchaphazela ngayo umntwana webanga lesine obeqhele ukufundiswa ngesiXhosa kumabanga angezantsi (asisiseko). Kumabanga asezantsi baqhele ukuzibonakalisa bezithemba ze xa befika kwibanga lesine kubenzima ukuzithemba.

This year I introduced my grade 4 learners to ‘iSayensi Yethu’: bilingual learning material for science and it helped us a lot (teacher and learners). Learners were able to understand science in class. Learners speak isiXhosa and they are able to read it and write it because in foundation phase they were taught in isiXhosa. The bilingual language use in my classroom made my learners more active, participative and it created an interest in science, as it was their first year learning science.

Kulo nyaka (2023) ndazise kubafundi bebanga lesine incwadi entsha esihloko sithi iSayensi Yethu. Le ncwadi ibhalwe ngeelwimi ezimbini, olwesiNgesi nolwesiXhosa. Isincede kakhulu le ncwadi ukuba abafundi bakwazi ukuyiqonda into equlethwe yiyo nokuyifunda. Incwadi le incede abafundi ukuba bakwazi ukuba nomdla kwezenzululwazi, bakwazi ukuphendula imibuzo, yabenza banodlamko kunyaka wabo wokuqala befunda izifundo zenzululwazi.

I have been teaching natural sciences and technology in grade 4 for the past 8 years and the learners are struggling to grasp concepts. The barrier is the LOLT. Some learners are naturally gifted, so they manage to excel but the rest struggle. According to author Brian Herbert “the ability to learn is a skill” so we need to equip the learners with that skill. Learners find it difficult to learn in a foreign language, which affects their confidence and performance. The iSayensi Yethu material has really helped me as a science teacher who aims at developing and guiding the learners to be problem solvers. This material, together with bilingual teaching, has really helped the learners to understand what is taught and be able to express themselves openly.

Ndingutishalakazi obesoloko efundisa ibanga lesine ukuqala kwiminyaka esibhozo egqithileyo, kwaye abafundi bebefumana ubunzima ukugcina nokubamba amagama esayensi ngenxa yolwimi esibafundisa ngalo olusisiNgesi. Abantwana abanesiphiwo ngokwendalo bebegqwesa ngeli xesha abantwana abaninzi egumbini lokufunda bebesilela. Umbhali uBrian Herbert uthi ‘ukukwazi ukufunda sisakhono’, kungoko kufuneka sibaxhobise abantwana kweso sakhono. Abafundi batsala nzima ekufundeni ngeelwimi zangaphandle loo nto ibenomphumela ekuzimiseleni kwabo nasekupaseni kwabo. Njengotishalakazi wesayensi injongo yam kukuphuhlisa abantwana ndibakhokele ukuba babengabasombululi beengxaki, Ukufunda incwadi iSayensi Yethu ngesiNgesi nangesiXhosa kubancedile abantwana ekuqondeni abakufundisiweyo bakwazi nokuthetha abakucingayo bengoyiki.

Sometimes learners may seem to be less interested in the subject and the reason is the language barrier. Some of my learners have developed a love of science now that they are taught in the language they understand. When I compared the results, the learners who wrote exams bilingually performed very well. The learners have regained their confidence. This material and bilingualism have opened my mind and allowed me to reflect on my teaching. I am looking forward to using this material in the future. If this type of materials can reach many students in primary schools maybe the attitude of learners towards science can change, especially in high schools because in most of the township schools there are few learners who choose science.

Ngamanye amaxesha abafundi bavele baphelelwe ngumdla kwizifundo zesayensi ngenxa yolwimi olusetyenziswayo. Abanye abafundi babonisa ukuyithanda ngoku isayensi ngoba bafundiswa ngolwimi abaluthandayo. Ndiye ndathelekisa iziphumo zabafundi abebebhala ngesiNgesi kunye nabafundi abebebhala ngesiNgesi nesiXhosa. Abafundi abebebhale ngesiXhosa kunye nesiNgesi baqhube kakuhle kakhulu. Abafundi ngoku bayakwazi ukuzithemba baphendule kwigumbi lokufundela kwaye babuze apho bangaqondi khona ngokungoyikiyo. Oku kufundisa ngeelwimi ezimbini kundivule ingqondo kwandeza ukuba ndiqwalasele uhlobo endifundisa ngalo. Ndijonge ukuyisebenzisa le ncwadi nakwiminyaka ezayo kwaye ndinqwena ukuba ifikelele nakwabanye abafundi bezinye izikolo zamabanga aphantsi ukuze kuzokutshintsha uhlobo abayibona ngayo isayensi nokuze bafike kumabanga aphakamileyo benomdla wesayensi ngoba kwizikolo zaselokishini baba mbalwa abafundi abakhetha icala lezenzululwazi nobuchwephesha.

Nosimo Ndzotyana
Intshayelelo Primary School, Cape Town


 

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