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SAMF News
Last night, the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) announced Robin Visser and Nicholas Lambrecht as the country’s top High School mathematicians of the South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO) at their annual award ceremony held at the Lagoon Beach Hotel in Cape Town.
The 17-year old Emile du Plessis, a Grade 11 learner from Hoërskool Menlopark in Pretoria, could hardly contain his excitement when he heard that he was placed third in Gauteng province after writing Round 2 of the South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO).
On Wednesday 30 July thousands of primary school learners (Grades 4 to 7) countrywide will be competing in the final round of the South African Mathematics Challenge. Co-ordinated by the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) as well as the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) and sponsored by Sasol, the Challenge aims to breed a generation of learners who enjoy mathematics.
The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) is proud to announce the names of the six high school learners who will represent South Africa in the 55th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) that will be held in Cape Town from 3 to 13 July.

 

From 12 to 16 May thousands of primary school learners (Grades 4 to 7) countrywide will be competing in the first round of the South African Mathematics Challenge. Co-ordinated by the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) as well as the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) and sponsored by Sasol, the Challenge saw more than 71 000 learners participating in the first round last year.
Each year, thousands of learners in Grades 4 to 7 from Primary Schools across the country participate in the South African Mathematics Challenge. Co-ordinated by the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) as well as the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) and sponsored by Sasol, the Challenge saw more than 71 000 learners participating in the first round which took place earlier this year.
Last night, the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) announced Robin Visser and Bronson Rudner as the country’s top High School mathematicians of the South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO) at their annual award ceremony held at the Kopanong Hotel in Benoni.
     
     
     

 

 

SAMF eNewsletter - June 2014

Foreword - Prof Johann Engelbrecht 

 

South African Mathematics Olympiad: High School Learner Development Programme

 

 

 

South African Mathematical Challenge: Primary School Learner Development Programme

 

 

 

Siyanqoba Regional Olympiad Training Programme

 

 

 

Mathematical Talent Search

 

 

 

Teacher Problem-Solving Courses

 

 

 

International Mathematical Olympiad

 

 

Our Staff

 

 

Foreword - Prof Johann Engelbrecht

This year started off with a bang. We, at the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), have been busy with our numerous learner and teacher development programmes as well as coordinating the 55th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), an event we really look forward to hosting in South Africa for the first time since its inception.  

Recent news headlines were made by the World Economic Forum (WEF) when they released a report wherein South Africa was ranked last in terms of mathematics and science education.

 

I am somewhat uncertain about how the WEF did its research but am fairly convinced that the findings are perhaps somewhat exaggerated and that not all factors have been taken into account. In other international measuring instruments SA fare better. Along with this hesitation on the truth of the report, we have to realise that there are indeed serious problems with mathematics and science teaching in the country. Although there are pockets of excellence, urban schools where very good teaching is taking place, this report (and also our own experience) tells us that there are many schools, especially in rural areas, where almost no tuition takes place in these subjects.

 

Rather than writing off this report as not valid, let us take note of it and consider this as an urgent warning: Do something!

 

What can be done to improve the quality of education in these subjects? A number of steps should now be taken:

 

  • Get the right people to teach the subjects by giving status to mathematics teachers again. This can only be accomplished if differentiated remuneration packages are introduced.
  •  
  • Mathematics is growing so rapidly in extent as well as importance that we have to split the grade 12 subject. There should be the possibility to do two subjects in mathematics. The subject mathematics has a curriculum that is so full that no depth can be reached in understanding the different concepts.
  •  
  • Include more problem-solving into the curriculum. This can be done by participation in mathematics competitions.

We therefore urge teachers to register all their learners for our various learner development programmes.

 

Read more about these programmes in the rest of this newsletter.

 

 

South African Mathematics Olympiad: High School Learner Development Programme

 

On 13 May more than 18 000 high school learners across the country competed in the second round of the South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO).

 

The SAMO is the biggest Olympiad in South Africa and has been taking place on an annual basis since 1966. It is organised by the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), a non-profit organisation established to advance mathematics education through improved quality teaching and learning as well as through public awareness.

 

Sponsored by Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited (‘Harmony’) and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) the Olympiad takes place over three rounds and consists of a junior division for Grades 8 and 9, and a senior division for Grades 10 to 12. The first round of the Olympiad took place on 13 March with more than 82,000 learners from 1,030 schools participating, breaking the record of the previous year’s entries. Those learners who scored 50% and above in the first round proceeded to the second round.

 

The UJ Metropolitan Academy (formally known as Raucall) has been participating in the SAMO for the past 10 years and for the second consecutive year entered all their learners for the first round of the SAMO. Marietta Westerberg, the school’s principal says that all learners in UJ Metropolitan Academy take pure maths up to matric. “There is a lot of team motivation among the learners to take part in the Olympiad. The Maths department, headed by Mrs Desirée Levendis, constantly encourages the fun element in maths and likes to challenge learners to stretch themselves and step out of their comfort zones.”

 

“It is also important to remember that participation in the South African Mathematics Olympiad is not reserved for those only clever, nerdy children in school,” says Nwabisa Mphakalasi, Project Director: Marketing of the South African Institute for Chartered Accountants (SAICA) who is a proud co-sponsor of the Olympiad. "Classroom Mathematics has recently moved more and more to what could be called mechanical calculations or numeracy. It is therefore very important that we continue to emphasise that Mathematics is about thinking and the discovery, and validation, of problem solving methods. "

 

Harmony, who is also a sponsor of the SAMO, is proud to be associated with the learner and teacher development programmes organised by the SAMF. “Harmony recognises the critical role of education in transforming South Africa,” says Mashego Mashego, Executive Director at Harmony. “The Olympiad is one of the initiatives that form part of our commitment to the sustainable socio-economic development and well-being of our communities.”

 

 

The learners at UJ Metropolitan Academy 

 

 

South African Mathematical Challenge: Primary School Learner Development Programme

 

From 12 to 16 May more than 75 000 primary school learners (Grades 4 to 7) countrywide competed in the first round of the South African Mathematics Challenge. Co-ordinated by the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) as well as the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) and sponsored by Sasol. This competition was first held in 1977 and the questions are designed to improve theoretical know-how, the application of knowledge in new situations, rational assessment and general mathematical thinking. The aim of the competition is to breed a generation of learners who enjoy mathematics and understand that it is more than just calculating.

 

“It is essential to mention that the Challenge is not really about competition or how good you are at mathematics,” says Prof Johann Engelbrecht, Executive Director at the SAMF. “It is more about participation and learners who feel they are not good at mathematics can write the paper with another learner as a pair. Yes, the questions can at first seem challenging but they are not difficult. They simply address a different dimension of mathematics outside the traditional curriculum.”

 

Pam Mudhray, Group Community Affairs Manager at Sasol says that the Challenge is a step toward improving the South African STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) landscape. “We are very proud of this initiative (the Challenge) and the number of participating learners that is increasing each year. Sasol is committed to the development of South Africa; we recognise the challenges in education and together with the South African Mathematics Foundation we hope to advance mathematics education and developmentin South Africa.”

 

Learners with a result of more than 60% will advance to the second round that will be written on 30 July. Learners’ achievements in the final round are acknowledged by awarding Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates based on their results. Last year a total of 3 662 certificates were issued of which 550 where Gold, 1 741 Silver and 1 371 Bronze. The City of Tshwane had the highest number of certificates issued followed by Cape Town and East London.

 

Participating in the Challenge ultimately prepare the learners for the South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO), aimed at Grade 8 to 12, and other High School Olympiads such as the Pan African Mathematical Olympiad (PAMO) as well as the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), the latter which will be hosted in Cape Town during July this year.

 

 

Siyanqoba Regional Olympiad Training Programme

 

The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) offers several training programmes throughout the year for young maths enthusiasts who want to improve their mathematical knowledge or skills, prepare for the South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO) or to select and train the South African teams for the International and Pan African Mathematics Olympiads.

 

One such programme is the Siyanqoba Regional Olympiad Training Programme. It is supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and offers classes on a regular basis for high school learners who show a particular interest in understanding of mathematical concepts rather than the school curriculum’s routine type of questions.

 

There are ten training centres:

 

  • University of Pretoria (Pretoria, Gauteng)
  • University of Johannesburg (Johannesburg, Gauteng)
  • Extra Maths and Science School (Bloemfontein, Free State)
  • University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal (Durban, KZN)
  • Rhodes University (Grahamstown, Eastern Cape)
  • University of Limpopo (Polokwane, Limpopo)
  • Lowveld High School (Nelspruit, Mpumalanga)
  • University of Venda (Thohoyando, Limpopo)
  • University of Stellenbosch (Stellenbosch, Western Cape)
  • University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, Gauteng)

 

Each centre is managed by a regional coordinator who is responsible for not only ensuring that facilitators are adequately equipped but also for selecting and training learners for the programme.

 

For more information contact Jeffrey Thomas at the SAMF offices on 012 392 9372 or info@samf.ac.za.

 

 

Mathematical Talent Search

 

Another such programme is the Mathematical Talent Search - a distance learning programme for talented high school learners who want to improve their performance in the SAMO or wish to be considered for inclusion in the South African teams for the International and Pan African Mathematics Olympiads.

 

Upon registration for the Talent Search learners will receive a mathematics assignment with questions similar to those posed during the South African Mathematics Olympiad. After each assignment the participant will receive their marked script back with comments and solutions to be studied, as well as the next assignment.

 

“As the learner progress through the assignments they will learn mathematical problem solving techniques and interesting results, which fall outside the school curriculum,” explains Prof Johann Engelbrecht, Executive Director of the SAMF. “The Talent Search programme is open to all high school learners and is free of charge. We encourage especially those learners who qualified for the second round of the SAMO to make use of this programme.”

 

For more information contact Ellie Olivier at the SAMF offices on 012 392 9372 or info@samf.ac.za.

 

 

Teacher Problem-Solving Courses

 

On Saturday, 22 February the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) and the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) in association with Sasol launched the first in a series of Primary School Teacher Problem-Solving Course workshops as part of the SA Mathematics Primary School Initiative Programme.

 

The workshops took place at the Boitjhorisong Resource Center in Sasolburg and Osizweni Science Center in Secunda. The workshops were attended by teachers from Sasol adopted schools: 22 in Sasolburg and 40 in Secunda.

 

“The influence of teachers in the development of the learner is paramount,” explains Mr Alwyn Olivier, Academic Coordinator and President of AMESA. “Therefore teacher problem-solving skills and strategies need to be sharpened in order to allow them to support the learners whilst contributing to the enhancement of the quality of teaching and learning.”

 

Pam Mudhray, Group Community Affairs Manager at Sasol says that Sasol recognises the efforts to improve mathematics education at primary school level. “Through the workshops we are equipping teachers with the necessary tools and skills they can use to empower young people. Mathematics is one of the most challenging gateway subjects to tertiary education and improving results at primary school level is a step towards ensuring that the learners of today are the mathematicians, scientists and engineers of tomorrow who will enable us to overcome poverty and reach the South African dream of a better life for all.”

 

The workshop for Grade 4- 7 mathematics teachers runs over two Saturdays. The workshops are presented by facilitators from AMESA who went through thorough and intensive training in problem-solving. Teachers who are interested in attending the course, that can be offered anywhere in the country, should contact Thabo Ramaboea at the SAMF offices on 012 392 9342 or info@samf.ac.za.

 

Another course is the Harmony Teacher Development (HTD) projects: a short course for high school teachers to improve their skills in solving Olympiad type mathematical problems. It is available as a live taught (GET and FET phases) or DVD course (Level 1 for GET and FET phases and Level 2 for GET phase) and certificates are issued which may be used for continuous professional development.

 

“We encourage all mathematical teachers to take advantage of this unique opportunity to improve their problem solving skills,” says Prof Johann Engelbrecht, Executive Director of the SAMF. “Teachers can then go back to their classroom to train and enter their learners in the South African Mathematics Olympiad, which will result in a better quality of product from the schools and will put their learners in a position to reap higher achievement levels at university.”

 

The live taught course is free of charge when a group of 20 teachers in the same area register for participation. The entry fee for the DVD course is R250 per teacher, which will be refunded when a teacher has completed the course. For more information on how to register, contact Patrick Rasehwete (Project Manager, SAMF) at 012 392-9348 or send an e-mail to rasehwetep@samf.ac.za.

 

 

Teachers at the training course in Sasolburg earlier this year. 

 

 

International Mathematical Olympiad

 

From 3 to 13 July young mathematicians from across the globe will compete in the 55th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). A total of 109 countries have already registered for this prestigious annual competition, breaking the record of 104 competing countries set in Germany in 2009.

 

The IMO is the world championship mathematics competition for youths younger than 20 years, hosted by a different country each year. The first IMO was held in 1959 in Romania, with seven countries participating. It has gradually expanded to over 100 countries from five continents.

 

The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), which acts as the national office for mathematics education in the country, plays a major role in the preparation for the IMO. Prof Johann Engelbrecht, Executive Director of the SAMF, says that hosting this year’s IMO is an opportunity to show the world that we are able to host world-class events and that we have top-class mathematicians.

 

Prof John Webb, of the University of Cape Town, who has served on the IMO’s Advisory Board since 2001, has been appointed as the Director of the IMO 2014. He is extremely pleased with the number of countries that have registered to compete this year.

The six South Africans that will represent their country in this prestigious international competition are:

 

Bronson Rudner, Grade 10, South African College High School in Cape Town

Nashlen Govindasamy, Grade 12, Star College in Durban

Robin Visser, Grade 12, St George's Grammar School in Cape Town

Sanjiv Ranchod, Grade 10, Westerford High School in Cape Town

Tae Jun Park, Grade 11, Rondebosch Boys' High School in Cape Town

Yaseen Mowzer, Grade 10, Fairbairn College in Cape Town

 

South African IMO team members are chosen from the top performing learners in the South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO), which is the annual competition for high school learners as well as learners that perform well in other SAMF programmes. These activities have been running for many years and have made a substantial contribution to building and promoting interest in Mathematics in the country.

 

Potential team members attend three Olympiad training camps; the most recent training camp took place at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) during the April school holidays.

 

Prof Betsie Jonck, HOD of the Department of Pure and Applied Mathematics of UJ, says: "It was a pleasure having the kids at the University. UJ wishes the IMO team all of the best for their efforts in Cape Town."

 

The South African team of six will be competing under the watchful eyes of team leader Dirk Basson and Melissa Kistner, both former SAMO medallists.

 

The IMO2014’s main sponsors are the Department of Basic Education, Google, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), the South African National Roads Agency Ltd Soc (SANRAL) and Sasol.

 

The SAMF and IMO2014 sponsors would like to wish the South African team all the best in their final preparations for this prestigious competition.

 

For more information on the IMO 2014 visit www.imo2014.org.za.

 

 

 

 

Our Staff

 

We are proud to announce that Pebetse Madisha and David Ramakoba, who started working at SAMF as National Youth Volunteers in 2008have been promoted to Project Coordinators.

 

 

 

Jeffrey Thomas also joined our team as a permanent staff member in the role of Project Manager. He is responsible for the South African Mathematics Chalenge, the Primary School Teacher Problem-solving Course as well as the Siyanqoba Regional Olympiad Training Programme.

 

 

 

Our team has also been joined by two National Youth Volunteers: Retshepele Mangena and Alice Mahlatjie. The National Youth Programme is funded by the Department of Science and Technology and coordinator by the South African Agency of Science and Technology Advancement and offers unemployed BSc graduates the opportunity to improve their skills at various host institutions throughout the country.

 

 

 

 







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