“I respect mathematics, I respect science and I respect myself,” was the creed at Kabelo Primary School, Katlehong in the South of Johannesburg, one of 13 schools that are receiving support from IT solutions provider EOH in a numeracy and natural science programme led by the Maths Centre. EOH is investing several million into the project that is aimed at increasing numeracy skills in primary schools.
Matthews Phosa, Non-Executive Chairman of EOH says the project is an investment into the future of our children. “Partnerships such as these, involving private sector, teachers, learners and the community will leave a legacy for the future to follow. Science and mathematics are key to opening the doors of the future. You have a responsibility to society, to be of service to the nation by learning the skills you will need to face the future with confidence,” Phosa said to a group of pupils at Kabelo Primary School.
Despite the national pass rate increasing by nearly seven percent, there are still too few scholars writing and passing maths and science. The recent Matric results for 2010 showed that 47.8 percent of pupils passed the maths and physical science exams, with 81 374 candidates out of 641 533 achieving a pass rate of 40 percent or more in maths granting them exemption to be considered for university entrance.
EOH embarked on the project in April 2010, and the results thus far have been astounding. “The project was rolled out to ten primary schools and three special needs schools in Katlehong and Thokoza in the South of Johannesburg, affecting 140 teachers and 4 863 learners. Each of the schools received a maths and science kit, CD Rom learner books and activity file, with the special needs schools each receiving a computer and data projector, tablet pens as well as maths and physical science software,” says Asher Bohbot, CEO of EOH.
The three year project saw the Maths Centre roll out its methodology to the foundation phases (grades 1 to 3) of the schools during its first year. The project will then expand in the second year to include grades 4, 5 and 6 with the third year of the project, focussing on Grade 7. “We started the project by performing baseline testing on the learners to benchmark our progress. Since then post tests have revealed an average increase in numeracy competency of 13%, with the special needs schools performing above and beyond our expectations,” says Sharanjeet Shan, the National Executive Director of Maths Centre.
“Maths and science are a standard requirement needed to grant an individual access into the formal job sector, making it a crucial skill to possess. The maths centre programme offers a long term solution to the maths and science skills shortage prevalent in South Africa, making it a natural avenue for EOH to grow and support. I would like to urge all involved to utilise the funds available and to convert it into tangible skills that will be of value to the future of the children,” says Bohbot.
Sharanjeet Shan, urges teachers to annually improve on a minimum of 50% of the gaps between the current level of understanding that teachers possess and what is needed to teach mathematics and science. “It is crucial for teachers to constantly increase their understanding of maths and science content and to broaden the total backdrop of skills required to teach these two disciplines effectively. It is necessary to organise teaching content into a learning plan with definitive objectives and outcomes that the children will understand and internalise in order to achieve numeracy,” says Shan.
Mathematics is what makes the universe tick. “At the end of the day, all of us, whether you are a politician, a CEO or a teacher, we need to remember that it is our generation’s responsibility to pass the knowledge we have learnt in our lives, to the next generation, so each of them have the skills to live, love and leave a legacy behind,” concludes Shan.