The entrepreneur experimenting with the chemistry of learning


Science is difficult. Just 3.7% of matric science students achieved a distinction for the subject in 2016. But often the struggle of individuals is due more to the failings of teaching methods than personal shortcoming – as Bathabile Mpofu discovered when her high school education hadn’t prepared her for university science. She passed in the end, but the cause of her shaky start continued to bug her. So while doing her MBA at UCT last year, Mpofu decided to apply her entrepreneurial skills to solving the problem.

Since she lacked the scope to address failings in the high school science curriculum at large, she looked for a way to make the existing system more engaging for learners. Her premise was that children learn better when they are self-motivated rather than instructed – so make it fun. And that’s just what she has done through ChemStart, a yearlong aid to chemistry students consisting of weekly experiments that relate to the school syllabus.

Through interesting, practical experiments the kit shows learners the application of what they are absorbing in the classroom. Mpofu’s creation is breathing fresh energy into chemistry, a subject that is notorious for stumping scholars. But she has shown that it need not be feared and that discovering the fun in it is the key. It’s an approach to education that has the potential to transform the South African curriculum, provided we can unearth more innovators like Mpofu.