Exam too easy?

2012-11-17 00:00

• STATE whether the following event is certain, most likely, or impossible: Christmas Day is on 25 December in South Africa.

• If a chocolate slab is R14, 95, how much did Mrs Rose pay in total for three slabs of chocolate?

With questions like these, which featured in the 2012 matric final mathematics literacy paper, people posting on The Witness’ Facebook page believe they would have passed the exam with flying colours.

Aubrey Offer concluded that these types of questions are the department’s method to make its pass rates look reasonable.

Others appeared stunned by the simplicity of the questions. “You must be joking!” Sbo Mtshengu said.

Grade 12 pupil Joshlyn Coogan Tessika said: “I thought it would be more challenging than the trials — not happy at all.”

But journalism student Jenna Tanner said she chose maths literacy because she was bad at maths and felt she didn’t need it for her future career.

University of Free State rector and vice-chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen has been vocal about the state of the education system in South Africa.

He said: “The low-level questions are only symptoms of a much deeper problem: the low expectations set for mathematical learning since the first grades of schooling.”

Jansen said maths literacy shouldn’t be an excuse for not teaching “real” mathematics well.

University of KZN education expert Dr Edith Dempster said there is room for mathematics literacy. In the past, not all pupils were capable of doing proper maths.

“At least all of them can do maths now,” she said.

Bryan Dibben, deputy headmaster of Maritzburg College, said he encourages pupils not to drop from maths to maths literacy, even if they are doing badly.

“Many of the universities are now saying that it is better to fail maths than to do maths literacy.

“This being the case, we have a policy that we should discourage boys from changing, unless they have a history of failures in maths despite every effort on their part,” he added.

Dibben said universities tend to put those with maths literacy at the “end of the queue”.

Instead of dropping maths, he advised that a pupil should do extra work.

In KwaZulu-Natal, 67 377 pupils wrote the mathematics literacy first paper on November 2.

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