Dropping Olympiad a shame

2013-02-13 20:59

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Johannesburg - The entire continent will be humiliated if South Africa backs out of hosting the International Mathematics Olympiad in 2014, the SA Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) said on Wednesday.

"The olympiad has been running since the 1950s and it is the first time it is on African soil.... Should we withdraw, it will be a huge embarrassment for the entire continent," said SAMF executive director Johann Engelbrecht.

On Wednesday, Business Day reported that South Africa could miss out on the opportunity of hosting the event if R6 million was not raised by the end of February.

Engelbrecht said that, despite this, he remained confident the olympiad would take place in Cape Town

"We are very positive. There is no plan B.... We are going to run it."

He said a National Treasury-organised breakfast on Wednesday morning had attracted some potential sponsors.

"I must mention the full support we have had from government and some of their contributions."

There were no formal pledges at the breakfast, but Engelbrecht said it had attracted private partners.

He said hosting the event in Cape Town, as scheduled, would boost pupil participation in maths.

"The most important thing is to participate. Maths teaches you problem-solving... in all aspects of life."

The olympiad is an annual championship competition for high school pupils from around the world.

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