Mathematics to remain compulsory in SA schooling system

SEDIBENG. – The Department of Basic Education says it has no aim of making mathematics optional for learners.This follows recent reports that the department was considering this option following a number of students that do not do well in the subject. In a statement issued to Sedibeng Ster following enquiries about the reports, the department said that mathematics is compulsory from Grades 1 to 9 in the South African schooling system.

From Grade 10, learners have the option of choosing one of the following three forms of mathematics, (a) mathematics (as we know it) (b) mathematical literacy (for learners who do not intend pursuing post schooling careers that will require mathematics as part of the admission requirements and (c) technical mathematics (for learners who intend pursuing technology related careers).

“It, therefore, needs to be understood that there is no learner in the system who, at any point, does not offer one or another form of mathematics until they complete their Grade 12. This makes mathematics, in whatever form, compulsory for all learners in the system. This is the position of the department regarding mathematics for South African learners and the department does not intend to change this position now or in the near future.”The department said that the reports were misleading as it continues to recognise the role that mathematics plays and will continue to play in the development of our nation.

“The number of learners passing mathematics at 50% in Grade 12 has increased in recent years as well as 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.

South Africa has registered great improvement in the recently released SACMEQ tests, where 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.”

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