Editorial: Department’s decision does not add up

2016-12-11 06:03

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2016-12-06 09:53

SA's grade 5 and grade 9 pupils are among the world's five lowest-performers in mathematics and science when compared with their international counterparts. Education researcher Dr. Nic Spaull looks at the worst performers per province. Watch. WATCH

The decision by the department of education to drop the pass rate for maths to 20% for grades 7 to 9 is an appalling indictment of our education system.

According to the department, children in those grades who obtained 20% in maths, but who passed all other subjects, would be allowed to progress to the next year.

This decision has no merit. It is a lazy, badly reasoned and inelegant solution to the problems facing our children and their educational needs.

To put it simply, 20% is two out of 10. It is not a pass rate and it is not a test of skill and knowledge; it is a cop-out.

Maths is the cornerstone of our world. Everything we do has its basis in maths – science, music, art, running your own business, planning, critical thinking. None of these things is possible without a decent working knowledge of maths.

The jobs of the future are calculated in numbers.

What has been done here to millions of children is inexcusable. We are condemning several generations of our children to being ill-equipped to deal with a rapidly changing world.

This decision does not affect the children whose parents can afford to pay for extra classes or private tutoring. This decision affects the neediest children in our country. They are the ones who will be let down by a badly run education system before they even enter formal schooling.

What the department is doing here is showing us that failure is the new normal; that we are not prepared to invest time and effort to allow our children to compete in this world.

As philosopher Roger Bacon so elegantly said: “For the things of this world cannot be made known without a knowledge of mathematics.”

Read more on:    department of basic education  |  maths

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