Experience + enthusiasm = new head of maths and science

Prof Percy Sepeng, a seasoned and enthusiastic educator, has recently taken over the reins at the Tshwane University of Technology’s Department of Mathematics, Science and Business Education (MSBE), situated in the Faculty of Humanities.
The newly appointed HOD, Prof Percy Sepeng, of Maths and Science at the Department of Mathematics, Sciences and Business Education, Faculty of Humanities

On 1 January 2018, Prof Sepeng was appointed as full professor and HoD of MSBE. The Department of MSBE, at the School of Education, focuses primarily on training educators in the Senior Phase and Further Education and Training Band (Grades 7 to 12), in Mathematics, Sciences and Business Education.

Prof Sepeng is no stranger to TUT. He has previously worked as a part-time lecturer in Engineering Mathematics. He has also worked at University of Johannesburg, Wits University, University of South Africa (UNISA) and NWU where he was appointed as an Associate Professor in 2014. At NWU, he was the Director of the School for Teacher Education and Training, responsible for eight departments and all undergraduate programmes.

Hailing from a small village in the northwest of Bela-Bela called Cyferskuil; Prof Sepeng completed his basic schooling in 1993 at Utsane High School before embarking on an extensive academic journey. After 14 years of work and study after matric, Prof Sepeng obtained a PhD in Mathematics Education from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

In an interview with e-TUTor, Prof Sepeng shared his vision for MSBE, “I would like to see systems in place at the Department that will create an intelligent space for everyone to develop as academics, together with adequate systems that will enable them to get the support they need.”

Some of his immediate priorities include enhancing the quality of scholarship of teaching and learning, research outputs and maximising engagement in community projects. “As a mathematician, I believe that we owe it to the community around Soshanguve to uplift and empower them with various skills and relevant knowledge to solve daily problems they may encounter,” says Prof Sepeng.

“Internally, I would like the Consumer Studies Unit to get involved in getting the restaurant on at the Soshanguve North Campus back in business. Our lab technicians are qualified chefs, therefore it should not be too difficult to bring the restaurant back to life and create third stream income for the Faculty,” he adds.

Prof Sepeng added that he would like to see the Consumer Studies develop short learning programmes, tailored to address the need of the community to learn to cook and bake.

As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Prof Sepeng says he is a keen runner and a former professional soccer player who enjoys going to the stadium to watch soccer game. He chuckles when he adds that continuous study is one of his hobbies. He is currently enrolled for the second year of a Master of Business Leadership (MBL) through the Graduate School of Business Leadership at Unisa.

Twelve Master’s students and five PhD students completed their studies under his supervision. He is expecting two more PhD students to graduate at NWU in April this year.

During his tenure at Unisa and NWU, he served as a Council member at uMalusi Assessment and Standardisation Committee – positions he still holds. Professor Sepeng was appointed by UMALUSI Quality Council as an Assessment Standard Committee member (Mathematics) responsible for advising the minister of Basic Education on issues of standardisation of assessments, including those up to Grade 12 final examination results and exit qualifications.

He also sits in a team that evaluates accreditation of Independent Schools at UMALUSI Council. He is currently an Independent Evaluator and Researcher at the South African Council for Educators (SACE). Prof Sepeng is also an Evaluator of Higher Institutions’ academic programmes for accreditation at Council on Higher Education. He has reviewed over 10 School and University Mathematics textbooks both locally and internationally. He is currently involved in the continuing professional development of Mathematics teachers, as well as Subject Specialists (or Advisors) in three different provinces of South Africa.

Prof Sepeng has been a Mathematics Consultant for various organisations such as the Mathematics Centre for Professional Teachers, Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, JET and Mindset Network for over 10 years.

Among his scholarly achievements, Prof Sepeng has published more than 25 articles in accredited journals; and over 20 articles in non-accredited journals, including conference proceedings. He has published two chapters in a book and has one book under his belt. His current research interest is the enhancement of mathematical modelling and/or problem solving through promoting argumentation and introducing discussion as the strategies in the teaching and learning of mathematics in multilingual classroom settings.

“I really do not take for granted the fact that I have been given an opportunity to lead human beings that are highly qualified and experienced. I am cognisant of the fact that we are given a mandate to raise standards and perform at higher levels, but also a mandate to achieve whatever needs to be achieved in the department as a collective through teamwork,” he concluded.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Willa de Ruyter, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 5352   Email: deruyterw@tut.ac.za