In 2014, the World Economic Forum global competitiveness report ranked South Africa at 144 for maths and science teaching out of 144 countries. The WEF’s report was later dismissed by various specialists as “preposterous” and flawed.
It was found that the methods used to calculate the rankings were “Subjective, unscientific, unreliable and lack any form of technical credibility or cross national comparability.” However it is a well-known fact that South Africa’s education system is in crisis, especially in the maths and science categories. According to the Annual National Assessment results released in 2013, only 39% of grade six learners and 2% of grade nine learners scored more than 50% in mathematics.
Some of the root causes of this failing system stem from primary and the way that mathematics is taught in schools. The remedial Sparrow Foundation School is constantly finding new ways of evolving and finding new ways to improve education. On 4 May 2015, the Foundation School launched its newly built Maths Enrichment Center at the Foundation School in Melville.
The new center incorporates a Maths Enrichment program which aims to improve the levels of teaching and mathematical competence. It is equipped with superior teaching facilities and focused on the teaching of mathematics at grades 5, 6, and 7 levels.
The center was made possible through the generous funding by General Electric and the Sparrow Foundation UK. “We at General Electric are very proud to see this place and what we have done with it. I would like to encourage you go into the center, work hard, get people to help you and don’t be afraid. Maths is a foundation for you to be great one day,” says Solutions Consultant Manager of General Electric, Andre Bodenbarck at the launch.
The program aims to break down the stereotypes associated with mathematics as a difficult subject. Keeping in mind that the Foundation School is a remedial school, the program has been specially designed for the learner with learning difficulties. “The one thing that our learners struggle with is understand the reasons why they do mathematics. The programs we have in the maths center allow them to think in that direction. The program is also designed to allow the learner to develop at their own pace. It is unlike in the classroom where all the learners are expected to all develop at the same pace,” says the new Foundation School Mathematics specialist, Vincent Edwards Basson.
Starting off as a qualified physiotherapist, Basson brings with him 27 years of teaching experience and 5 years working experience, working at district level with the Department of Education. He is also a mentor, coach and pastor.