Maths and sci­ence need you, school­girls told

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - LEILA SAMODIEN

SOUTH Africa’s maths and sci­ence skills short­age has reached cri­sis point, cre­at­ing a des­per­ate need for young peo­ple to pur­sue ca­reers in th­ese fields.

This is ac­cord­ing to Sha­heed Hart­ley, di­rec­tor of Cape Penin­sula Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy’s (CPUT) Cen­tre for Maths, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Ed­u­ca­tion.

CPUT and a cor­po­rate spon­sor hosted the an­nual Women in Math­e­mat­ics pro­gramme at the Capeto­nian Ho­tel on Wed­nes­day. The pro­gramme en­cour­ages school­girls to fol­low ca­reers in­volv­ing math­e­mat­ics.

About 100 girls from dis­ad­van­taged Cape Town schools – in Grades 10 and 11, and be­tween 15 and 17 – were in­vited to at­tend. All have a tal­ent for maths.

Sev­eral speak­ers – women who have suc­cess­ful ca­reers in­volv­ing math­e­mat­ics – en­cour­aged the girls to work hard at the sub­ject.

“When it comes to maths and sci­ence, there is a na­tional cri­sis at schools,” said Hart­ley. “By us­ing pro­grammes like Women in Math­e­mat­ics, we are try­ing to ad­dress that cri­sis in the West­ern Cape.”

He said there was a lack of women in maths-ori­en­tated jobs. and that the pro­gramme would guide young girls into a ful­fill­ing job di­rec­tion.

“The idea is to ex­pose girls who ex­cel at math­e­mat­ics to women who have made a suc­cess of the sub­ject in their var­i­ous fields.

“The speak­ers come from sim­i­lar back­grounds to the girls. That gives them en­cour­age­ment that, no mat­ter their cir­cum­stances now, they can make a suc­cess of their ed­u­ca­tion.”

Hart­ley said CPUT had sim­i­lar pro­grammes aimed at high-school pupils, in­clud­ing those in ru­ral ar­eas.

Speaker Washiela Fish, of UWC’s math­e­mat­ics depart­ment, urged pupils to pur­sue ca­reers as maths teach­ers, say­ing it would ease the coun­try’s ed­u­ca­tion cri­sis.

“It’s not a glam­orous pro­fes­sion, but the coun­try is in an ed­u­ca­tion cri­sis, which very much re­volves around math­e­mat­ics,” she said.

Speak­ers, mostly aca­demics, in­cluded Jenny Rame­sar of UCT’s med­i­cal school, Hamieda Parker of UCT’s grad­u­ate school of busi­ness, Se­haam Khan of CPUT’s health sciences depart­ment, and Lorna Holt­man of UWC’s post­grad­u­ate stud­ies pro­gramme.

Maths teacher Racheline Lesch said she had brought a group of her best pupils from Mal­ibu High School in Blue Downs. She was pleased hard work and pas­sion were stressed.

“When I was study­ing, we didn’t have op­por­tu­ni­ties like th­ese. A pro­gramme like this lets the girls know many op­por­tu­ni­ties await them.”

Pupils Aanisah Gaf­foor, Mar­ion Stevens and twin sis­ter Robin, from Ber­nadino Heights Secondary School in Kraai­fontein, said they loved maths and were looking for­ward to fol­low­ing suc­cess­ful ca­reers.

“(Com­ing) from dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties (won’t) keep us from fol­low­ing our dreams.”


EA­GER TO LEARN: Grade 11 pupil Yolanda Mnyengeza from Langa High School asks a ques­tion dur­ing the Women in Math­e­mat­ics pro­gramme.


SUM­MING UP: Dr Washiela Fish of UWC’s math­e­mat­ics depart­ment.

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