SAIP Webinar 13 November 2020: SAIP Physics Teacher Development Project: Implications for Human Capital Development and Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

SAIP Physics Teacher Development Project: Implications for Human Capital Development and Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


The panel of speakers:

1.      Prof David Wolfe – IOP Africa Volunteer

2.      Mr Vusi Mngomezulu – Allan Gray

3.      Dr Sam Ramaila – University of Johannesburg

4.      Dr Erick Maluta – University of Venda

5.      Dr Derek Fish – University of Zululand Science Centre


South Africa faces a fundamental and systemic challenge of poor quality of mathematics and science education leading to low physical science pass rates at school. This poor quality has an adverse impact on the whole science, engineering and technology skills pipeline.  In response to this state of affairs, fundamental concerns were expressed by the physics community about the quality of students entering universities and the state of undergraduate physics teaching and learning in South Africa.  The SAIP carried out the Review of Physics Training in South Africa in partnership with the Council on Higher Education (CHE) with a view to address these concerns.  Outputs of the review include the Physics Undergraduate Degree Benchmark Statement, physics education best practices as encapsulated in the Review of Physics Training in South Africa Report and the initiation of the Physics Teacher Development Project.

Significant strides have been made in the implementation of the Teacher Development project.  Over 2500 teachers have been reached in 5 provinces and the project is expanding to cover all the 9 provinces.  A positive impact has been reported on improved matric results as well as improved teacher professional competence and confidence in teaching physical science.  During COVID19 lockdown, SAIP managed to broaden educational pathways to STEM education by reaching teachers through both online training and support material distribution to schools.  Over 20 000 booklets and USBs on Physics Essential Skills for Matric were distributed.  The panel discussion will reflect on the project progress and its impact on human capital development thus far.  It will also discuss how physics education and human-capital development will address socio-economic development priorities for sustainable realisation of SDGs.  An overview will be provided on the physics pedagogical approaches adopted, how interested parties can partner the project, and the pivotal role played by various key stakeholders towards the enhancement of the quality of physics education for purposes of developing and nurturing an inclusive next generation of scientists for South Africa.

Draft Programme

Speaker / Panellist

Items Presented 13 Nov 2020 – From 13:00 – 14:00

Duration (Mins)

        Dr Sam Ramaila

Historical sketch goals and aims and how physics education addresses socio-economic development


        Prof David Wolfe

IOP partnership and pedagogical approach used


        Dr Derek Fish

UNIZULU partnership Essential Skills for Matric


        Mr Vusi Mngomezulu

Experience on SAIP Projects and Allan Gray Partnership


        Dr Eric Maluta

Concluding Remarks, closing the COVI19 gape,  project expansion and impact and invitation to stakeholders to partner the project



Open Discussion Q&A




Prof  David Wolfe


I received a PhD in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania. I have taught and done research at the Universities of Chicago, Washington (Seattle), New Mexico, and Cape Town. My research was in high-energy experimental physics, and I worked at most of the major accelerator centres in the world, including Brookhaven, Fermilab, and CERN. I have 142 papers refereed and published in leading physics journals throughout the world. In the 1990s I was involved in work on nuclear non-proliferation with former Soviet Union countries. I have also done secondary-school teaching in the UK. In all of these I have won numerous awards for teaching. It remains my deepest interest. Since 2003 I have been involved with the UK Institute of Physics (IOP) and, since 2012, with the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP). We run training programmes for secondary school teachers in Soweto, Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal, and Limpopo and would like to expand this programme through all nine provinces.

Mr Vusi Mngomezulu


Vusi Mngomezulu launched his career at Allan Gray in 2016 as a software developer after graduating from the University of Cape Town with a BSc in Computer Science and Business Computing. At Allan Gray he has had the opportunity to fulfil both his passion, working as a software developer, and his purpose to be a change agent, as an ambassador for the Philanthropy Initiative with Employees of Allan Gray.  Through the Philanthropy Initiative, Vusi was able to obtain funding for the South African Institute of Physics teacher training programme. The funding has enabled the initiative to make a significant contribution to improving the future of science education in South Africa. Vusi is passionate about this cause as he believes that Science and Technology is a key catalyst for a more convenient and pragmatic life for all. In addition to studying at the University of Cape Town, Vusi is also an Alumni of the Near East, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa Undergraduate Exchange Program (NESA UGRAD) which afforded him the opportunity to study at the University of Missouri in the United States with a major in Computer Science. Vusi grew up in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal at Kwa-Mashu Township where he attended two local schools namely Kwazi primary and Nqabakazulu high school and matriculated at Empangeni High School.

Dr Derek Fish


Since graduating as a Science and Mathematics teacher, Dr Derek Fish has been running Unizulu Science Centre in Richards Bay, South Africa, for almost 30 years. Derek’s passion is presenting Science and Mathematics to children in a way which encourages curiosity and inspires them to study further. He has presented science shows all over the world and attended all 8 of the Science Centre World Congresses. He has represented Africa on the International Programme Committee for these Congresses and on the Global Committee of ASTC. He is a founder and former President of the Southern African Association of Science and Technology Centres (SAASTEC). In 2016 he completed his doctorate in Physics with a study based in his science centre

Dr Sam Ramaila


Dr Sam Ramaila currently serves as the Chairperson of Physics Education Division within SAIP. He served as SAIP Member of Council during the period 2011-2017 and successfully coordinated the Review of Undergraduate Physics Education in Public Higher Education Institutions Project. In addition to serving SAIP in various capacities, he spearheaded the implementation of the Teacher Development Project which immensely contributed towards the enhancement of human capital development within the broader South African context.

Dr Eric Maluta


Hold a PhD in the field of renewable energy from the university of Bath, working on understanding different properties of energy materials using different computational techniques. His other area of interest is on science learners programmatic support, teachers development and science communication through Vuwani Science Resource Centre. He currently hold the teachers development portfolio as a member of SAIP council