In response to questions posed by ANC’s Education spokesperson in the legislature, Khalid Sayed, Education MEC David Maynier discovers that some Western Cape schools were faced with an array of challenges pertaining to maths and physical science.
Over the period 2014 to 2022, 23 schools have phased out physical sciences, and 26 schools have phased out mathematics.
As reported by IOL, Maynier attributes these challenges may be due to a number of factors in addition to difficulty in acquiring qualified maths and physical science teachers. These include English, and Afrikaans being the primary language used in assessment instructions, as well as students switching to mathematical literacy.
While the home language of a vast number of Western Cape students is not English or Afrikaans, it is these two languages in which the national math assessment instructions are set in Grades 10 to 12 nationally.
This means that not all students received equal and fair assessments.
According to Maynier, in April this year, the department launched its Mathematics Strengthening Strategy: 2022 – 2027 in an attempt to enhance student participation and performance in maths.
Sayed has urged the department to make provision for tutors to assist schools and encourage student uptake for these subjects, stating that this was a cause for great concern.
An additional concern is the number of students that have switched from maths to maths literacy.
“Thousands of learners have been allowed and/or encouraged to make this switch,” says Sayed. “It may be beneficial to many schools as it improves the pass rate, especially in matric.”
In 2022, 556 Grade 10 learners, 5601 Grade 11 learners, and 3373 Grade 12 learners have moved from pure maths to maths literacy
The essential question that Sayed asks is “but is it beneficial for the learner?
That is the question we need to ponder upon.”
Foundation for Education and Social Justice Africa (FESJA) deputy chairperson Hendrick Makaneta also expresses his concern, saying: “The long-term effect of the phasing out of these gateway subjects is that the country will not be in a position to produce local data scientists and other key specialists that are in demand in the mainstream economy.”