Trialogue – a view point
Published: October 2, 2016

Having been at the helm of the Maths Centre, I have realised that the core business of improving Mathematics and Science in all its dimensions for learners and teachers cannot be put right without improving teacher experience and  qualifications in the teaching and learning I say this with huge despondency and despair that there has been almost no increase in performance and participation of learners, although numbers being entered for examinations has. There has been an increase in the number of qualified teachers but there is obviously little transfer of that increased knowledge by teachers into the classroom.

I feel strongly that the time has come to choose strong, strategic, impacting partners and move with implementation.

There will be NO significant difference unless:

  • Qualified teachers teach maths and science both at school level and in FET colleges which were set up without adequate training, creating of correct perceptions and appropriately qualified staff for FET.
  • Teachers come to work on time and do not leave until all tasks are concluded
  • Teachers use at least one good text book and cover the curriculum as required per year.
  • Phase transfer arrangements are understood in all their dimensions
  • ALL of the 200 odd schools days are used for teaching and learning
  • Assessment understanding and practices improves 100%.
  • Learners read, write and talk mathematics and science.

Maths and Science Education is a correct strategy as skills needed in all of the following industry sectors are embedded into Maths, Science and Technology:

  1. Engineering of every conceivable kind and at every level of mining, construction and transport industry
  2. Economics; Accounting; Insurance; Finance industry
  3. Computers
  4. Banking
  5. Would be scientists
  6. Medical
  7. Production industry
  8. IT industry
  9. Expanded public works programme
  10. Entrepreneurial SMMEs
  11. Agriculture and chemical industries

I am not an expert just an educationist and therefore a very worried observer that much too often skills learnt TODAY become ANACHRONISTIC in Tomorrow’s world in the most advanced of democracies. In SA, the danger is even greater.

  • China and India march ahead adopting CK Prahalad’s economic model so fast that we are forever playing catch up.
  • Global warming knocks on our door.
  • We see IMPORTING of skills as a strategy neglecting growing our own.

Foundation Learning in Numeracy and Literacy will introduce learners to problem solving and improving reading, writing and arithmetic in a reasonable time frame. Currently we are crisis fighting, we are thinking crisis and there is never any sustainability in that.

However, under no circumstances can a nation afford to throw away the rest of the 8 years of children’s lives.

No way.

The most strategic entry point for improving maths performance is the Foundation Phase, preferably Grade R/1.

I would like to see each and every province have a clear cut Primary enhancement strategy in Numeracy and Science.

I would like to see FET improve significantly each year so that within 5 years, ALL FET colleges understand their role and responsibility.

Mathematics is a pure discipline and requires decent funding, good number of years (at least 6) for a project to take teachers through the nuances of mathematics teaching and learning.

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