Maths competition for Primary learners a step in the right direction

This is mostly perpetual in remote and underprivileged areas and in some instances teachers are not equipped to teach Maths, throughout South African schools. The question is what would be the immediate remedy to this?

As a private sector whose concern is education and betterment of Maths, NESTLÉ Nespray brought together stakeholders in education and nutrition sectors, from both private and public in a panel discussion to discuss solutions aimed at boosting learner’s mathematics performance of primary school learners in the intermediate phase in South Africa.

The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) in partnership with Nestle kick- started South African Mathematics Challenge, whose aim is to encourage learners to be independent, creative and critical thinkers who will be able to interpret and critically analyse everyday situations that will allow them to solve problems.

The competition is open to all Primary Schools nationally from Grades 4 to 7; and is endorsed by the Department of Basic Education.

 At the launch, the panel made up of academics, discussed how to promote a broader perspective on the nature of mathematical activity, including that mathematical activity is more than calculation; it can also be helpful in critical-thinking skills outside the classroom.

It further emphasized the importance of reading in mathematical activity and the importance of developing and disseminating materials that contribute to meaningful mathematical activity in classrooms. The importance of nutrition in the early phases of education was also highlighted.

The panel comprised of PhD in Mathematics honouree and Lecturer Dr Dephney Mathebula, Dep. of Basic Education Chief Education Specialist Sindiswa Mcosana, Vice Chairperson of The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), Professor Seithuti Moshokoa, Professor Lucia Meko, lecturer at University of Free State and registered dietician with the HPCSA, and Adedoja Ekeruche, Business Executive Officer, Dairy Nestlé South Africa.

It also featured Kgaogelo Bopape, a Grade 11 Learner and Pan African Mathematics Olympiad gold medal recipient, who is also representing South Africa at the 2019 International Mathematical Olympiad.

“We believe that Mathematics is a necessary enabler in the development of conceptual understanding, problem-solving skills, reasoning skills and the ability to apply knowledge in new situations. With decades of expertise in nutrition, NESTLÉ NESPRAY plays a supportive role in cognitive development and overall growth of our children.

Together with our partner, the South African Mathematics Foundation; and our stakeholders, we are helping to address the critical situation of mathematics performance of our young children. By amplifying the platform, we aim to make mathematics attractive and to make a difference by giving our children the support and opportunity they need to multiply their potential,” commented Ekeruche.

The South African Mathematics Challenge (SAMC) organised by SAMF in collaboration with the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) has been growing from the inception year of 1977 to the current size of approximately 80 000 to 100 000 learners from more than 1 000 schools countrywide participating annually.

“As a result of the new sponsorship from Nestlé through the NESTLÉ NESPRAY brand, the administration of the SAMC will be much easier.

An exciting new aspect of the SAMC is the learner and teacher workshops that will take place in all 9 provinces. The Primary Teacher Development Course was developed to assist teachers to prepare learners for the SAMC. In addition, the sponsorship by NESTLÉ NESPRAY has made the addition of a third round possible that now allows the NESTLÉ NESPRAY South African Mathematics Challenge to achieve the objectives of popularising mathematics and encouraging mass participation in Round 1.

We will also award the achievement of many learners with Certificates of Achievement in Round 2, and identifying, supporting and developing exceptional talent in Round 3 where the students will have the opportunity to be crowned the #1 National NESTLÉ NESPRAY Mathematics Champion at the NESTLÉ NESPRAY Smart Camp,” said Professor Kerstin Jordaan, Executive Director of SAMF.

As indicated we hope teachers will benefit greatly from this exercise- so that learners should not treat Maths as a foreign language.

Image (Panellists from left to right: Adedoja Ekeruche (Business Executive Officer for Dairy, Nestlé South Africa), Prof Seithuti Moshokoa (Vice Chairperson for SAMF), Kgaogelo Bopape (Scholar), Dr Ntsoaki Meko (Lecturer at University of Bloemfontein), Dr Dephney Mathebula (Lecturer at University of Venda), Ms Sindiswa Mcosana (Chief Education Specialist: Mathematics in the Foundation Phase).

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