Maths not counted out of school

The Department of Basic Education says it has no intentions of making mathematics optional for learners. Last Thursday, the department dismissed media reports suggesting that the basic education sector intends to make Mathematics optional.

It said the reports are far from the truth and are misleading, as the department continues to recognise the role that Mathematics plays and will continue to play in the development of the nation. “Maths is compulsory from Grade 1 to 9 in the South African schooling system.

From Grade 10, learners have an option of three forms of Mathematics, including Mathematics (as we know it); Mathematical Literacy (for learners who do not intend pursuing post-school careers that will require Mathematics as part of the admission requirements), and Technical Mathematics (for learners who intend pursuing technology-related careers).”

The department said there is no learner in the system who at any point does not study one or another form of mathematics until he complete his Grade 12. This makes Mathematics, in whatever form, compulsory for all leaners in the system.

The department said it does not intend to change its position on mathematics now or in the near future.

“We have made great strides as a nation in improving learner performance in maths, and this is demonstrated by the recent improved performance of our learners in national, regional and international assessments, as reflected in the National Senior Certificate, the Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) respectively.”

The number of learners passing mathematics at 50% in Grade 12 has increased in recent years, as well as the number of learners passing the subject with distinction. “We have also seen learners from quintile 1 to 3 (schools from disadvantaged and economically poor communities) performing, as well as learners from quintile 4 to 5 schools,” the department said.

South Africa has registered great improvement in the recently released SACMEQ tests, where it was reported to be the most improved country in the mathematics scores.

The same trends were observed in the TIMMS results, where South Africa registered the highest improvement of all participating countries.

The department said these improvements did not come by chance, but came as a result of a concerted effort by all stakeholders from the sector, social partners and civil society. The department’s Minister, Angie Motshekga, has assured the nation that the importance of maths will continue to be highlighted in the curriculum design, as well as education planning.


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