In the video below, eNCA speaks to Professor Nicky Roberts about the state of maths education after the release of the 2021 matric results
Many experts say that mathematics in South Africa is in crisis, especially after the 2021 matric results were released. Statistics show that fewer than 260 000 of the 1 million learners who started school in 2010 wrote mathematics in 2021, and less than 8 000 learners passed with distinction.
Professor Nicky Roberts from the Department of Childhood Education at the University of Johannesburg discussed the matter further in this interview. Roberts noted that “crisis” can be a strong word, as it loses the overall picture of improvement in mathematics. “Even though we’re improving off a very low base, our mathematics is improving… We are improving pretty much faster than any other country in the world.” She explained that South Africa is improving in relation to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results, with better quality passes in mathematics.
The maths literacy vs maths dilemma
However, there are increasing numbers of grade 12 learners choosing to take maths literacy rather than maths. This might be an effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Roberts believes students should be encouraged to take mathematics instead of maths literacy irrespective of the degree path they would like to take. She noted that some universities place equal value on maths literacy and mathematics for some degree programs, which would discourage learners from taking mathematics, and disadvantage learners across many careers.
You can read Roberts’ article she wrote in her personal capacity on the seven steps she used to help her kids pass matric and manage the challenges of maths and physics.