Mathematics in schools here to stay – minister

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

Mathematics remains compulsory from grade 1 to 9 in the schooling system, education authorities reiterated on Friday.

Education Minister Angie Motshekga rejected media reports suggesting the department was about to scrap some mathematics requirements.

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The reports said consultations on proposed amendments to pass requirements for pupils in grades 1 to 9 were underway.

The suggestion was that this would see mathematics removed as a compulsory pass requirement.

Motshekga said: “We have noted with great concern the misinformation to the nation by certain quarters of the media that suggests that the sector is intending to bring changes by making mathematics optional.”

This was misleading and far from the truth, said the minister.

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“The department continues to recognise the role that mathematics plays and will continue to play in the development of our nation.”

She said mathematics, in whatever form, was compulsory for all learners in the system.

“This is the position of the department regarding the offering of mathematics by the South African learners and the department is not intending to change this position now or in the near future.”

Learners could take up mathematics, mathematical literacy or technical mathematics.

Mathematical literacy was for learners not intending to pursue careers where mathematics was part of the admission requirements.

Technical mathematics was for learners intending to pursue technology-related careers.

Motshekga said there was no learner in the system who did not take one or another form of mathematics until completing grade 12.

The number of learners passing mathematics at 50% in grade 12 had increased in recent years.

So had the number of learners passing the subject with distinctions.

“We have also seen learners from quintile 1 to 3 (these are schools from disadvantaged and economically poor communities) performing as well as learners from quintile 4 to 5 schools,” said the minister.

Her department said South Africa performed much better in the recently released SACMEQ, a survey in 14 African countries and to tests grade 6 students in mathematics.

South Africa 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.

TIMSS is a series of international assessments of the mathematics and science knowledge of students around the world.

“These improvements did not come by chance, but came as a result of concerted effort by all stakeholders, from the sector, social partners and the civil society,” said Motshekga.

“This included, improved development and supply of good learning and teaching support materials, teacher supply, by both government and partners like Teach SA as well as teacher development initiatives rolled out by the government and non-government organisations supported by key partners like Centre for the Advancement of Mathematics.”

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  AUTHOR
Thato Mahlangu

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