Editorial: It’s time to deal with the reason kids fail maths

2017-07-12 14:27

One of life’s lessons is that you should not try to solve a problem by creating another one. Instead, get to the root and fix it from there, rather than deal with the symptoms.

Our basic education department seems to be doing the exact opposite as it tries to deal with the high maths failure rate in schools. Last week, it said it planned to embark “on a broad consultation” process on the proposal to remove maths as a promotional subject and introduce a policy that pupils in senior phase should at least pass four subjects with 40%, one of which is a home language, and pass another four subjects with 30%.

This, the department says, is because “it was apparent from the 2014 midyear performance that the new promotion requirements were adversely affecting the performance of pupils.

“To minimise the impact of the higher promotion requirements in the senior phase, the department issued National Assessment Circular 3 of 2015 to allow for the adjustment of marks and, in 2016, given the adverse impact of the compulsory pass requirement of mathematics at 40%, a special condonation dispensation for mathematics was applied.”

Research has shown that children who learn maths will most likely have the capacity to deal with more complex thinking in life.

But the department seems to be looking for an easy way out of the real issue of teaching kids maths in schools. Instead of hiring skilled teachers to teach maths, it will become just another subject. This is our children’s future and should not be brought to the table where politics is at play.

In trying to please teachers’ union Sadtu’s ego, the department should make sure that teachers are subjected to competency tests to determine their abilities, which can be upgraded where needed and which will, in part, help children learn this necessary skill.

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March 18 2018