Institutions around the country are waking up to the fact that having a good matric maths result opens grade 12 learners up to a world of possibilities. Unfortunately, fewer learners are taking matric maths every year - the total number of candidates dropped 14% from 2009 to 2010 - and over half of those who do take the subject fail. In fact, only 30% of all candidates achieve a mark higher than 40% for maths.
Getting into university or finding a good job is much easier for those who score well in matric maths, and South Africa is in desperate need of skilled, maths-literate graduates. Doing well in maths helps students break the cycle of poverty and allows them to contribute to the country's economy. Here are four initiatives that are seeking to boost matric maths scores and giving school leavers a fighting chance in the world of work.
Media24: Exam booklets
Media24's stable of family magazines - YOU, Huisgenoot and Drum - wanted to come up with an effective way of helping matric learners prepare for difficult subjects like maths. Nerisa Coetzee, an associate publisher at Media24, decided to focus on final exam preparation, since practicing often is an excellent way to prepare and learn. The result is a series of booklets that contain brand-new exam question papers and solutions compiled by expert teachers, available in both English and Afrikaans. Learners can work through these papers on their own and check their answers against the memorandum.
Cambridge University Press: Online revision course
The well-known schools publisher is taking exam revision to the web with the Cambridge University Press Grade 12 Maths course. The entirely online revision course runs over the school holidays and supports learners as they work through the entire matric maths curriculum in preparation for the final exams. The course is taught by Paul Carter, an experienced maths teacher, who is available to answer learners' questions at any time on an interactive discussion forum.
Soweto: Maths learning centres
The Soweto Development Committee, in partnership with the SABC and The Sowetan, has launched an ambitious project to improve maths, science and commerce education in the township. It aims to build Learning Centres that will offer free tutoring to grade 12 students, focusing on difficult subjects like maths, in an effort to sharpen the minds of matric candidates, help them pass their exams and make them more competitive in the workplace.
eTutor: Computer learning
Cape Town-based technology company eTutor has recently piloted a learning system that gives disadvantaged students access to computers and digital maths learning resources. The 96 matric learners chosen to test the system were given a set curriculum that they worked through over three hours each week at eTutor's centre in Claremont. In the end, all of the pilot students passed their final maths literacy or pure maths exams. eTutor is planning to roll out two new learning terminals in the Western Cape.
By Anna Malczyk
Anna Malczyk is the content manager at online training firm, GetSmarter, www.getsmarter.co.za who present the Cambridge University Press Grade 12 Maths course online throughout South Africa. Call 021 447 7565 for more information.