Developing mathematics at school level

Ms Chantyl Mulder, the senior executive for professional development, transformation and growth at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).

Improving the quality of matric mathematics results is a national issue that South Africa is addressing, with a view to improving its critical skills development strategy.

The country is in dire need of skilled professionals such as nurses, doctors, engineers and educators.

In light of national borders becoming porous, the professionals who are home-grown should rise above mediocrity and strive for excellence in order to compete on global platforms.

How will this be possible? It requires the involvement and commitment of pupils, parents, teachers, school governing bodies and government to ensure that the country produces high quality matric pupils, eligible to study key professions such as accounting, engineering, commerce and science.

This is according Ms Chantyl Mulder, the senior executive for professional development, transformation and growth at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).

Ms Mulder was disappointed at the pass rate in mathematics and accounting and she is adamant there is lots more to be done.

Of the 225 458 pupils who wrote mathematics, 53 percent passed. Furthermore, there were 7 216 distinctions in 2014, compared to the 8 217 in 2013.

Quality is also of big concern as the pass-mark is 30 percent. Another point of concern is the steady decline of the number of pupils who take up mathematics, as most pupils are opting for mathematics literacy.

“I wish that 70 percent of maths passes would be a score of at least 60 percent,” said Ms Mulder

She added that the focus should be on quality and not quantity.

One of SAICA’s prime functions is to rapidly grow the number of the nation’s prospective accountants.

Tasked with boosting the numbers of black chartered accountants in South Africa, the institute’s Thuthuka Bursary Fund offers about 250 bursaries to African and coloured South African grade 12 pupils with exceptional all round marks, specifically in mathematics and English.

“Pupils take the easier maths literacy option, hoping to achieve a better matric. But maths literacy dramatically reduces their options for further study and employment. We need to produce highly skilled and educated African professionals. It is important that we get the right quality of pupils,” said Ms Mulder.

Going forward, Mulder said that through its Thuthuka Maths Olympiad programmes, the SAICA will continue to support and encourage pupils to take up mathematics. It will also target grade 8 and 9 pupils.

“SAICA is taking decisive action to improve education in the country, especially in mathematics and accounting. It is encouraging to see the country’s top pupil in mathematics and physical science, Rohin Jain, has already been honoured and recognised by SAICA as a top achiever. Rohin, from Selborne College in East London, scooped the honours as both the national winner as well as the Eastern Cape provincial winner in the SAICA Sage Pastel Accounting Olympiad with a score of 94 percent,” said Ms Mulder.

Ms Mulder congratulated the 2014 matric pupils who achieved high marks in mathematics and other subjects, and encouraged them to aim high as they go to higher institutions of learning.

  AUTHOR
Malebo Debeila

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