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

CityPress - - Voices -

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. This 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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