Maths and science need you, schoolgirls told
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.