By: Mbali Dlamini
The shortage of suitable maths teachers has been in the spotlight in the country for years resulting in some schools not being able to offer the subject to its learners. This has had a negative impact on South Africa’s overall performance when it comes to subjects like mathematics and physical science.
Last year the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) released a report which revealed that at least 84 high schools across the country did not offer mathematics in 2016.
The result of which had a negative impact on the overall quality of tertiary education applications as maths is still a requirement for many courses. Meaning critical skills would not be generated as more students were forced to study courses that did not have maths as a fundamental requirement.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report which was released in 2016, South Africa was ranked last in mathematics and science education. This being the third time in a row that the country finished last in the survey which is based on the perceptions of business leaders.
The issue of the quality of education has long been a sore point for the South African government. In the past government officials have blamed the history of apartheid and Bantu Education for the poor performance of black pupils in maths and science.
According to Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) released in 2015, South Africa’s performance at grade nine, at 372, is far below the international advanced level of 625 points. The country ranks at number 38, out of 39 countries that have been assessed.
The proportion of grade nine learners who obtained intermediate, high or advanced international benchmark level, stands at 14% and 17% for grade five learners. And the National Advisory Council in Innovation is concerned about this low performance. Despite government claims to have programmes in place that will improve the quality of education in the country – this is not yielding any positive results yet when the country is placed head to head with other nations.
Recently the basic education department signed a memorandum of understanding with TEACH South Africa in a bid to tackle the shortage of qualified maths teachers at schools. TEACH South Africa is an organisation which is focused on ensuring that these critical subjects are deemed as important even in under resourced areas. The organisation achieves this by sending ambassadors to schools to assist learners with their subjects and empower them to improve their marks.
Government has however continued to call on parents and various stakeholders to take an active role in ensuring that their children understand the importance of maths and science. Several schools across the country are now finding alternative ways to ensure that learners perform better in critical subjects like maths and science.
The education and empowerment of young children through education is one of the social responsibilities which Kaya 959 holds close to its value system. Kaya 959 decided to partner with NGO “Keep That Gold Shining” (KTGS) which tutors Grade 10 – Grade 12 learners from schools in Soshanguve.
The NGO was founded in 2014 by students majoring in Mathematics, Physics and Accounting from the University of Pretoria. The organization’s primary focus is in township and rural areas as well as other disadvantaged schools around South Africa. As a prototype the group started operating in Soshanguve where it tested its project in three schools. Currently the organisation operates in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Free-State and North West.
The partnership between KTGS and Kaya 959 has resulted in the improvement of marks for a group of learners who are now ready for university.
Daniel Manunga who is a 17 year old from Soshanguve High School says with this programme he has been able to improve his marks and will be studying chemical engineering at university this year.