Grade 12 Maths results: Addressing the challenges

Friday, January 12, 2018

Grade 12 Maths results: Addressing the challenges


The Grade 12 results for Mathematics have recently been released.  245103 learners wrote the final examination in comparison with 265810 in 2016 – a decline of more than 20000.


Of these learners, 51.9% had a mark of more than 30% for the examination – an improvement on the 51.1% in 2016. In numbers, in 2017 there was a decline of more than 8000 learners who had a mark over 30% from 2016.


AMESA (Association for Mathematics Education in SA) conducted a thorough detailed analysis of the two question papers.  They found that both papers were cognitively well balanced and at the appropriate standard which catered for all mathematics learners, and that they were “marginally easier than the 2016 papers”.


The education department should be commended for having set papers that are cognitively well balanced and on the right standard. It is also pleasing that there was a marginal percentage increase in the number of students with a mark of more than 30%. However, it is disturbing that in actual fact fewer students made this target than in 2016.  As it is, the target of 30% is unrealistically low. A student who scored 30% can hardly be classified as someone who has “mastered” the subject. In a conceptually cumulative subject, such as mathematics (in contrast to factual subjects such as history) a student needs to master the entire current content before proceeding to something new.


It is also alarming to note that almost 128000 students achieved a mark of lower than 30% for this examination. What happens to these students now?


‘It is clear that the mathematics situation in the country needs to be addressed seriously and urgently. Many NGO’s and foundations of corporate companies are working in this direction.  We make a plea to these companies to support the mathematics community – including all mathematics teachers and university mathematicians – in their efforts to address the situation,’ says Prof Johann Engelbrecht, Executive Director of the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF). The mathematics community is represented by the SAMF – representing the four major societies – AMESA (Association for Mathematics Education in SA), SAMS (SA Mathematical Society), SASA (Statistics Association of SA) and ASSA (Actuarial Society of SA). Before we take into account the opinions and inputs of the people on the ground, success in mathematics will be unlikely.


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