Professor Mogamat Shaheed Hartley has championed the causes of science education at high schools around the country, helping to develop state-of-the-art science labs, promoting the formation of science clubs, teaching teachers and setting up friendly competitions involving robotics and paper jets.
For this and much more, the University of the Western Cape has honoured the Strandfontein resident with the UWC Chancellor’s Outstanding Alumni Award.
While the country’s high school results in science and mathematics subjects haven’t been very strong, as director of UWC’s Science Learning Centre for Africa (UWC-SLCA) Professor Hartley, has led the effort to change that.
“To develop a culture of science teaching and learning, we have to start with the basics: helping teachers to build the confidence to teach science with an advanced level of understanding, knowledge and teaching skills,” Professor Hartley said. “And we have to be creative in providing learners with opportunities that will draw their interest and willingness to learn.”
Professor Hartley, who grew up in Surrey Estate Athlone and attended Cathkin Secondary School in Heideveld, has first-hand understanding of the challenges involved, having taught high school science and mathematics for 12 years before moving to Stellenbosch University, where he became involved in research management. He later joined the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, where he started out as a Director of Research and later became the Dean of Research.
He moved to UWC to establish the Science Learning Centre for Africa, training Master’s and Doctoral students in Science Education and also conducting various outreach projects to support teachers and pupils in science.
Professor Hartley completed a BSc and MPhil from the University of the Western Cape, as well as as a BSc Hons from the University of Cape Town, and HDE and BEd from Unisa. He completed his Doctorate in Science Education at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, under the supervision of eminent science education researcher Professor David Treagust.
Professor Hartley publishes extensively in the area of science education, and has won numerous national and international awards for his work, including in 2009 the prestigious NSTF award for South African Science Communicator for Public Awareness for his contributions to science, mathematics and technology education evaluated over a five-year period.
He has presented his research on innovation in science education at a number of international conferences, and his research papers were voted as the best paper of the International Conferences on Educational Research and Innovation in Bangkok, Thailand in 2014, 2016 and in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
Professor Hartley is involved in a number of research projects that deal with the improvement of science teaching and learning. He has supervised 26 Master’s students in Education and five PhD students to completion, and is currently working on a longitudinal study of the professional development of science educators in the Eastern Cape province.