by South African Institute Of Chartered Accountants

Bettering Maths skills

Aspiring matriculants to improve their Mathematics skills at a Thuthuka camp

Professor Johann Engelbrecht, Executive Director, South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) and Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Pretoria

In an ongoing effort to address the quality of maths passes among matriculants in the country, the Department of Basic Education has once again joined hands with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) through its Thuthuka Education Upliftment Fund (TEUF) by means of supporting the Maths Development Camps in the country.

While other learners are on school holidays, more than 200 matriculants have opted to use the school holiday to up their skills in mathematics by attending camps at various locations (see table below). These learners were selected based on their academic performance with a minimum of 60% in Maths; Science and Accounting. Since the inception of maths development school camps, there are 63 students at various universities studying towards B Comm Accounting who were part of these camps in previous years. . Some of these students will be at the camp as Mentors/Role models since they come from the same schools and were also participating in these camps during their school days

SAICA is concerned with the quality and the declining maths pass rate among the country’s matriculants. South Africa has also seen a steady decline on an annual basis of the number of pupils who take up mathematics as most learners are opting for mathematics literacy.

SAICA has appealed for commitment and involvement from learners, students, parents, teachers, school governing bodies and government to ensure that the country produces high quality matric learners who are eligible to study key professions such as accounting, engineering, commerce and science. 

Professor Johann Engelbrecht, Executive Director, South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) and Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Pretoria said that this initiative by SAICA is invaluable to South Africa’s learners. “Although the SAMF is not directly involved in organising these Mathematics camps, we encourage all learners to use this excellent opportunity to improve their mathematical skills. The primary objective with getting involved in these external interventions is to improve your mathematical skills not only to improve your marks in Mathematics, but more importantly, to prepare yourself for a possible university programme that is numerical of nature - such as science, engineering, actuarial science, accounting and many others”, he said.

Engelbrecht further added that with the upcoming International Mathematical Olympiad in Cape Town next year, learners have to use all possible opportunities, including camps such as these, to expand their mathematical skills, especially their problem solving skills in mathematics to be considered for the national team.

According to Gugu Makhanya, Project Director: Transformation and Growth at SAICA, mathematics is a gateway to most professions, and avers that learners need to be encouraged and supported to study mathematics. “The camp consists of a five-to six-day workshop. Facilitators are invited to help motivate the learners and develop key skills identified as underdeveloped in African learners – soft skills, numeracy, literacy, study skills and examination techniques,” she says. SAICA funds and manages the organisation of the camps with financial support from the provincial Department s of Education. In addition, these camps will also be funded by Xstrata and the Reserve Bank of South Africa for the next three years. The camps are crucial at this stage of the learners lives because they get career guidance and development which will help them make informed decisions about their future career. This is pure tertiary preparedness which one doesn’t get taught at school. These provincially-run development camps represent an important component of the TEUF initiatives that target qualifying African and Coloured learners aspiring to become chartered accountants [CAs(SA)]. The objectives of the camps are to:

      • Assist learners to obtain and enhance the skills required to successfully achieve a post-matric career and study choice, and include numeracy, goal-setting, decision-making and career planning;

      • Encourage learners to obtain better marks by improving their aptitude in core Mathematics, Science, Accounting and English;

      • Promote the engineering, science, technology and specifically chartered accountancy as the careers of choice;

      • Expose learners to the business world in a fun and educational manner;

      • Introduce learners to simulated practices; and

      • Afford learners an opportunity to interact with their peers, as well as members of training organisations and universities.

Makhanya adds that “the camps are an excellent opportunity for learners to improve their academic performance in Mathematics, Science, Accounting and English, and develop their softer skills that will support them in their tertiary education as well as their future careers. One of SAICA’s key strategic drivers is that of Responsible Leadership and one of the topics at the camps will be Responsible Leadership.

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Issue 58