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Doing Mathematics in South Africa By Brian Simpson
Doing mathematics here in Australia is tough, and I dropped out in second year, with algebra (groups, rings, fields and other bs), partial differential equations and something else, I forget what, killing me. Wait, I remember, it was statistics, which we had to do in biology, but without the proofs and stuff. Anyway, I went back to biology and stayed there, achieving an average grade of 50.1 percent, truly stunning, but good enough for an Australian teacher. But if I was in South Africa, maybe things would have been different:
“The “pass mark” for Grades 7 to 9 taking mathematics has been lowered to 20%, according to a report by CapeTalk. The head of the Western Cape Education Department, Brian Schreuder, confirmed the new requirement in an interview with the radio station. Schreuder said there were concerns learners were passing other subjects but failing mathematics. “When a learner, specifically those in Grades 7 to 9, has failed mathematics it means they can’t be promoted to another level because mathematics is a compulsory pass subject,” stated the report. “Mathematics is a huge problem in our society. The quality and the number of passes in mathematics is a challenge,” said Schreuder. A directive has been issued for those learners who pass “everything but fail mathematics” to be considered for the new pass requirement so they can continue to FETs or Grade 10. “A decision was taken that the group of learners who fail mathematics must not have less than 20% minimum pass mark to be given an opportunity to do mathematics literacy,” said Schreuder. The current pass mark for maths is 40%.”
Clearly, what is needed is to drop the pass mark even lower, to 1 out of 100! If the student marks the paper with ink in any way, at least one mark should be given! It is not fair to pass blank pages, because no intention has been expressed, but an ink mark, preferably an “x,” which is vaguely mathematical, will do. And this is not having a go at South Africans either. Our students are getting that bad, so this is something we will need to address. Ok, bridges and buildings will not fall down because Chinese construction firms will be dealing with that, and the Chinese know their maths and engineering as good as we know how to cuck.