South African Mathematics Foundation: Bloghttps://www.samf.ac.za/BlogSun, 03 Mar 2024 08:52:12 Zurn:store:1:blog:post:31https://www.samf.ac.za/en/govender-looking-forward-to-golden-years-after-lifetime-in-educationGovender looking forward to golden years after lifetime in education<p><span data-contrast="none" style="font-size: 9pt;">First published <a href="https://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/2023-08-31-govender-looking-forward-to-golden-years-after-lifetime-in-education/">online</a>.</span></p>
<p><span data-contrast="none">It is the end of an era for education in the Eastern Cape as the man responsible for upskilling some of the province’s most influential mathematics and technical teachers hangs his hat on a career spanning more than four decades.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":241,"335559738":1,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span></p>
<p><span data-contrast="none">Dr Vasuthavan Govender, the chief education specialist at the Nelson Mandela Provincial Teacher Development Institute, is serving his last official day in the educational sector on Thursday.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":6,"335551620":6,"335559685":100,"335559737":431,"335559738":298,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span></p>
<p><span data-contrast="none">Starting his career in 1982 as a mathematics teacher at Woolhope Senior Secondary School in Malabar, Govender went on hold various academic and leadership positions in the field, including as subject adviser, university lecturer and organiser of the first nonracial Mathematics Conference at the former Alabama Hotel in 1988.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":258,"335559738":84,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span></p>
<p><span data-contrast="none">The 63-year-old Malabar resident had studied and taught predominately mathematics across the province before returning to Gqeberha in 2013 as the deputy chief education specialist in mathematics and science in the then PE District, and then taking up the position of programmes manager at the then new Teacher Development Institute.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":158,"335559738":297,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span></p>
<p><span data-contrast="none">And for just over five years, Govender has been involved in teacher development at the institute where, together with his team, they have trained thousands of teachers — more than 5,000 in the last year.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":241,"335559738":298,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span></p>
<p><span data-contrast="none">“I started off as a mathematics teacher; I wanted more pupils to do higher grade mathematics at the time,” Govender said.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":241,"335559738":299,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">“It opened doors to a number of careers, especially in the 1980s when</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":1,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":285,"335559739":0,"335559740":355}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">apartheid was in full force.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":1,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":0,"335559739":0,"335559740":355}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">“I have seen all the changes in our curriculum/syllabuses since</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":1,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":282,"335559739":0,"335559740":355}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">democracy.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":1,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":0,"335559739":0,"335559740":355}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">“The changes were necessary, though confusing at times, for schools in the early 2000s.”</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":295,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span></p>
<p><span data-contrast="none">He said in preparing teachers and improving their knowledge and skills, pupils would be the biggest beneficiaries.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":300,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">“If you examine the Eastern Cape grade 12 results since 2018, you will</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":1,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":285,"335559739":0,"335559740":355}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">notice an upward trend.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":1,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":0,"335559739":0,"335559740":355}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">“This is no accident, it coincided with the establishment of Teacher</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":1,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":281,"335559739":0,"335559740":355}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">Development Institutes in the Eastern Cape.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":1,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":0,"335559739":0,"335559740":355}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">“I think that training of teachers in some parts of our province may not</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":1,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":281,"335559739":0,"335559740":355}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">have received the priority it deserved.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":1,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":0,"335559739":0,"335559740":355}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">If more of our teachers are trained, I have no doubt that the Eastern Cape will be in the top four [provinces] in SA.”</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":241,"335559738":84,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span></p>
<p><span data-contrast="none">Govender, who has publishing more than 30 mathematics papers, and served as both president and vice-president of the National Council of the Association for Mathematics Education of SA, said he was looking forward to a little more time on his hands.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":299,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span></p>
<p><span data-contrast="none">“It has been non-stop since 1982. My last day is August 31 [today].</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":284,"335559739":0,"335559740":240}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">I look forward to taking things a bit easier; however, I will not be idle. I am teaching a Mathematics Education class at Nelson Mandela</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":2,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":241,"335559738":6,"335559739":0,"335559740":640}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">University until the end of 2023, and I may do a few classes at NMU in 2024.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":241,"335559738":1,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">I have been asked to get involved in research and other projects.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":285,"335559739":0,"335559740":240}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">I also hope to continue helping and supervising postgraduate students in education.”</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":9,"335559738":296,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span></p>
<p><span data-contrast="none">The current chair of the SA Mathematics Foundation said he would never have been able to wear as many hats in his career had it not been for the support of his wife, Premela, whom he married in 1988.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":0,"335559738":299,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span><span data-contrast="none">The Govenders have two children, Kushantha, a pharmacist, and Sachen, a civil engineer, and two grandchildren.</span><span data-ccp-props="{"134245417":false,"201341983":0,"335551550":1,"335551620":1,"335559685":100,"335559737":241,"335559738":299,"335559739":0,"335559740":228}"> </span></p>
<p><img src="/Content/Images/uploaded/Govender.JPG" alt="" /></p>
<p><span class="NormalTextRun SCXW183908226 BCX0">Dr</span><span class="NormalTextRun SCXW183908226 BCX0"> </span><span class="SpellingError SCXW183908226 BCX0">Vasuthavan</span><span class="NormalTextRun SCXW183908226 BCX0"> </span><span class="NormalTextRun SCXW183908226 BCX0">Govender</span></p>urn:store:1:blog:post:30https://www.samf.ac.za/en/meet-the-genius-behind-the-numbersMeet the Genius Behind the Numbers<p><em>Standard Bank Bursary Recipient and Winner of the 2022 SA Tertiary Mathematics Olympiad</em></p>
<p>In September 2022, Grade 12 learner Benjamin Kleyn, from Parel Vallei High School in Somerset West in the Western Cape, triumphed over 134 university students in the annual South African Tertiary Mathematics Olympiad (SATMO), organised by the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) and sponsored by Standard Bank. </p>
<p>As the winner of the Olympiad, Benjamin received a bursary to study towards a Bachelor of Science, majoring in mathematics, at the University of Stellenbosch. “I am deeply grateful to Standard Bank for this incredible opportunity,” he says.” Their investment in my future has alleviated the financial burden of pursuing tertiary education and motivated me to strive for excellence in everything I do. With this bursary, I am one step closer to achieving my dreams and positively impacting my community and country."</p>
<p>The SATMO is an individual competition where students have two hours to answer 20 relatively short mathematics questions. An example of a question, taken from the 2021 paper, is <em>‘How many ways are there to fill a 4 × 4 grid with a 0 or 1 in each cell such that the sum of every row and every column is even?’</em> Benjamin explained how he solved this problem. “Once you fill in a 3 × 3 square, there is only one choice for each of the remaining squares. You can also prove that the remaining corner is always consistent with a basic argument. So, the answer is 2<sup>9</sup> = 512.”</p>
<p>Benjamin, who started watching YouTube videos about solving mathematical problems in Grade 4, explained that his older sister (who was the joint runner-up of last year’s SATMO) motivated him to participate in the SAMF’s high school Olympiad when he was in Grade 8. She also prompted him to enter the Tertiary Olympiad last year. Benjamin is only the second high school learner to win the contest since its inception in 2012. After graduating, he plans to continue studying towards a post-graduate qualification in mathematics and gain corporate experience as a data analyst before pursuing a career as a mathematics lecturer.</p>
<p>"We are thrilled to support and invest in the future of South Africa's bright minds through the Standard Bank Bursary,” says Myen Moodley, Head, People and Culture, Standard Bank South Africa. “By recognising the achievements of the winner of the Olympiad, we hope to inspire a new generation of innovative thinkers who will help shape the future of our country."</p>
<p>Benjamin concluded that participating in the Tertiary Olympiad on 19 August 2023 is your chance to showcase your mathematics skills and compete with other talented students from across the country. “Remember, the Olympiad is an incredible opportunity to challenge yourself and grow your passion for mathematics. Make sure to save the date and prepare yourself for this exciting competition!”</p>
<p>Registration for the 2023 SATMO opens on 10 July 2023 at <span><a href="https://www.samf.ac.za/en/tertiary-olympiad">https://www.samf.ac.za/en/tertiary-olympiad</a></span></p>
<p> <img src="/Content/Images/uploaded/Benjamin Kleyn.png" alt="Benjamin Kleyn" width="227" height="227" /></p>urn:store:1:blog:post:29https://www.samf.ac.za/en/add-a-nthe-importance-of-parental-involvement-in-childrens-math-educationew-blog-postThe Importance of Parental Involvement in Children's Math Education<p><em><span>Mathematics is a critical skill in today's world, yet many parents struggle to help their children with their homework. The @Home with Mathematics project will bridge this gap by empowering parents and caregivers with the skills and knowledge they need to support their children's learning. With funding support, the South African Mathematics Foundation can continue to connect communities and create a brighter future for our children.</span></em></p>
<p>Written by Prof Kerstin Jordaan, Executive Director, the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF)</p>
<p><span>On 1 June 2023, the world celebrates the United Nations (UN) observance called Global Day of Parents. The day aims to recognise mothers’ and fathers' roles in caring for and teaching their children. </span><span><a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UjA-y3dQXfqFQ7-uZRLT6w41iaUEbvL_/view?usp=share_link"><span>Research</span></a></span><span> suggests that parents’ involvement in their children's mathematics education can improve their academic performance and success in later life.</span></p>
<p>Over the past 16 years, the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) has been intently involved in four major areas: mathematics research, advocacy, learner development, and teacher empowerment. This year, the organisation is adding a new pillar to its portfolio - parental development.</p>
<p>The Foundation's new project will equip parents with the necessary mathematics skills to support their children's learning. The <em>@Home with Mathematics</em> project strives to connect communities in an innovative way by encouraging parents and caregivers to assist primary school learners with mathematics homework.</p>
<p>Apart from parents and caregivers, the project will include different role players, like the schools, their principals, teachers, the relevant representatives from the Department of Education (DBE) of the participating districts, student volunteers, and student teachers.</p>
<p>The Foundation plans to use the pilot phase to support a group of learners and to develop dedicated adult basic education and training (ABET) materials that they will register with the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA). Through participation in the @Home with Mathematics project, parents could gain a qualification recognised by the National Qualification Framework (NQF). In addition, the Foundation will contribute to the development of numeracy levels of adults in the target population, with evident gains for South African society.</p>
<p>For the Foundation to seriously consider achieving these aims, we need partners with passion. A passion that will make it happen. We need a single-minded focus from our fellow citizens who are in a position of authority to help us achieve this. The reality is that most of what we do costs money, and we all know that the income sources of government have enormous demands placed on them. Not all of us are mathematicians or even teachers. However, we can all add our effort, support, and enthusiasm to those who can use our contributions to multiply the next generation of mathematical leaders' depth and skill.</p>
<p><span>I invite you to join us in partnership to make this vision a reality. There are several opportunities for individuals and corporates to get involved. We see it as a unique opportunity to contribute in a concrete way to improving South Africa at a grassroots level. To find out how you can make a difference, send an email to Patrick Rasehwete, SAMF’s Engagement and Project Manager at </span><span><a href="mailto:rasehwetep@samf.ac.za"><span>rasehwetep@samf.ac.za</span></a></span><span>.</span></p>
<p><span>You can also view our </span><span><a href="https://www.samf.ac.za/en/get-involved"><span>website</span></a></span><span> to see how you can partner with us.</span></p>
<p><span> </span></p>
<p><strong><span>About Prof Kerstin Jordaan</span></strong></p>
<p><span>Kerstin Jordaan holds a PhD in Mathematics from the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS). As an academic, her research interests are special functions, orthogonal polynomials and asymptotic analysis. Jordaan has published more than 45 research papers in high-quality, peer-reviewed, accredited international journals since 2003. She holds a Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellowship for her research and she is regularly invited to present plenary and invited talks at national and international conferences. </span></p>
<p>As an educator, her passion is to contribute positively to the improvements in South Africa's mathematics education. Jordaan is a Full Professor in the Department of Decision Sciences at the University of South Africa (UNISA). She researches mathematics and teaches undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Financial Mathematics and Data Science.</p>
<p>In 2015 she became the first female President of the South African Mathematical Society (SAMS); in 2018 she was appointed executive director of the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF). Jordaan also holds academic leadership positions at several organisations, including the Department of Science and Innovation-National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, National Research Foundation evaluation and rating panels and the National Graduate Academy in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.</p>
<p>Jordaan is married with two adult sons. When she is not doing mathematics, she enjoys baking, reading, and spending time outdoors.</p>urn:store:1:blog:post:28https://www.samf.ac.za/en/inspiring-the-next-generation-of-mathematicians-the-legacy-of-dr-cerene-rathilalInspiring the Next Generation of Mathematicians: The Legacy of Dr Cerene Rathilal<p dir="ltr"><span>On 12 May every year, the mathematics community celebrates the International Day of Women in Mathematics. The day commemorates the birthday of the Iranian mathematician and Fields Medal recipient Maryam Mirzakhani (1977-2017). Maryam is a role model for female mathematicians worldwide. One such mathematician is Dr Cerene Rathilal, a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu - Natal’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.</span></p>
<p dir="ltr"><span>According to the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), roughly 50% of the first-round participants of their annual Olympiad are girls. By the third round, less than 30% of the participants were girls. Cerene says that society must address gender inequality in mathematics. "Gender representation is vital - not just in mathematics but in every discipline. It is common knowledge that the sum of the parts equals the whole. Suppose we view the whole as our society. Who was contributing to the sum of the parts in mathematical discoveries? In the past, it was male representation. Imagine what could have happened if we had female representation in the past and if females had equal opportunities to contribute to mathematical discoveries."</span></p>
<p dir="ltr"><span>Nurturing an interest in mathematics, explains Cerene, starts at home and in the classroom. "We could bring mathematics into the kitchen. When preparing a meal, try to understand the various quantities or volumes. Your recipe may require 750 ml of water, but you only have a 500 ml cup to measure. Parents and teachers could guide their children to think about the problem and devise solutions to estimate 750 ml using the cup. Our homes are the perfect place for fun mathematics experiments."</span></p>
<p dir="ltr"><span>Although more females steadily enter the sciences fields, Cerene says it comes down to parents and teachers to ensure girls get exposed to role models. "We must show them that there are people like them in mathematics so that girls have inspiring examples to follow. We should also encourage a growth mindset. So we must celebrate the efforts, progress, and discoveries made by female students, mathematicians, and those contributing to mathematics."</span></p>
<p dir="ltr"><span>Cerene explained why mathematics is essential. "Mathematics is about developing new things. Are you using GPS today? Is it making your life easier? Is it helping you plan your trip from work to home, knowing exactly how long it will take you to get there and which traffic points to avoid? GPS is possible because of pure mathematical techniques that scientists used to develop into software for the public's benefit." </span></p>
<p dir="ltr"><span>Another application of mathematics is in the financial field. "Were South Africans happy with the three most recent interest hikes? Do we have any control over these interest hikes? Do we understand why they arise? What if we have systems that enable us to understand these things? What if we could predict when we would get the next interest hike? Without mathematics, answering these questions is impossible."</span></p>
<p dir="ltr"><span>Mathematics affects everyone in society. The technology in sewing machines, kitchen appliances, mobile phones, and the internet comes from mathematical understanding and techniques. That is why Cerene advocates for children to have access to learning mathematics every day.</span></p>
<p dir="ltr"><span>One of the things she does to help correct the gender imbalance is the STEM MentHER Program. She launched the program last year at the University of Johannesburg, and this year it has been launched at Stellenbosch University. "We asked educators and principals to nominate female learners from their schools to join the program. We received a tremendous response, which was encouraging because it shows that girls want to get into mathematics and sciences." </span></p>
<p dir="ltr"><span>Cerene, like many of her peers, celebrates the achievements of Maryam Mirzakhani on the International Day of Women in Mathematics. "She was one of the world's leading geometry and dynamical systems experts," concludes Cerene. "Maryam's beautiful and astonishing results and her life and career inspire everyone to pursue their dreams in science. In 2014, Maryam Mirzakhani received the Fields Medal for her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces. She was the first woman to be recognised by this top mathematical prize for her mathematical achievements. Maryam died tragically from cancer in 2017 at age 40."</span></p>
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<p><span><iframe width="425" height="350" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/V8RufsscOBA"></iframe></span></p>
<p></p>urn:store:1:blog:post:27https://www.samf.ac.za/en/improving-mathematics-outcomes-through-teacher-trainingImproving Mathematics Outcomes Through Teacher Training<p>First published in <a href="https://businessmediamags.co.za/business/csi-sunday-times-pr/improving-mathematics-outcomes-through-teacher-training" target="_blank">Business Media Mags</a></p>
<p>In an effort to improve mathematics education in South Africa, the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) is working in partnership with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences’ Schools Enrichment Centre (AIMSSEC), to provide extensive teacher training to help improve the country’s mathematics outcomes.</p>
<p>Through partnerships like these, the SAMF hopes to close the gap between previously disadvantaged communities and others to improve entry into mathematics and science careers for learners.</p>
<p>Mathematics outcomes in South Africa are amongst the worst in the world. It is a widespread issue and one that continues to worsen year on year.</p>
<p>One needs only to look at the 2022 National Senior Certificate (NSC) results to see the issue. The Department of Basic Education reports reveal that of the 269 734 who took mathematics in matric, only 55% of learners passed the NSC. While this percentage might look good on paper, when you look more closely you will notice that of the matrics who passed, only 22% passed with a grade above 60%.</p>
<p>It is not just matrics we need to worry about.</p>
<p>A recent study ranking the mathematics and science abilities of grade 5 learners around the world reveals that just 37% of South African grade 5s have a basic understanding of mathematics. These outcomes deteriorate even further by the time learners reach grade 9.</p>
<p>The problem, as many would suggest, is not a lack of funding. South Africa spends about 6% of its GDP on education (this is comparable to other equivalent-sized economies). Instead, one of the biggest factors is the quality of our mathematics educators.</p>
<p>“Poorly qualified teachers are a huge concern and it will take years to improve their content knowledge and pedagogical approaches especially in rural South Africa if we are to close the gap between previously disadvantaged communities and others with respect to transition rates into mathematics and science careers for learners later on in life,” explains SAMF Executive Director, Prof Kerstin Jordaan. “Without significant and urgent interventions, our mathematics outcomes will worsen.”</p>
<p>In an effort to improve mathematics education, SAMF, in partnership with AIMSSEC and Old Mutual, have invested three years to training a group of 106 secondary school teachers with the aim of making a difference to the skills and content knowledge of these educators.</p>
<p>Through a three-part virtual course, facilitated by international and local lecturers, teachers were able to improve their mathematical thinking, mathematical communication and language and differentiation and were also upskilled in how to include these skills in the teaching and learning of this subject.</p>
<p>The knock-on effects of this intervention speak for themselves. Not only did the teachers’ post-test scores show improvement from their pre-test scores, indicating that the course improved their own mathematical knowledge, but the results for the learners of teachers whose schools participate in the SAMF’s annual Old Mutual South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO) improved too.</p>
<p>“Jane Furse Comprehensive School in Limpopo is one of the schools whose teachers participated in the teacher courses. When reviewing its participation in the SAMO over the last three consecutive years, we’ve witnessed a staggering increase in the percentage of learners qualifying for the Second Round from 48% in 2020 to 73% in 2022. This is proof that the school’s teachers were not only able to increase the relevance of mathematics to the learners by exposing them to the world of mathematical problem solving but were able to deepen their engagement with mathematics as well, remarks Professor Jordaan.</p>
<p>But, says Professor Jordaan, to make a real and tangible difference in improving our country’s mathematics outcomes, more must be done.</p>
<p>“By providing leadership, support and guidance to grass-root initiatives by mathematics educators and researchers, SAMF is committed to contributing to improvements in the educational landscape of our country. For us to truly improve mathematics education, we need passionate partners and resources that can help empower teachers to generate an interest in mathematics and promote mathematical activity,” she concludes.</p>
<p>If you or your company want to get involved in changing the future of mathematics in the country, contact Patrick Rasehwete, SAMF’s Engagement Manager, via email at rasehwetep@samf.ac.za.</p>urn:store:1:blog:post:26https://www.samf.ac.za/en/the-art-of-teaching-mathematics-an-inside-look-with-nelisiwe-malamlelaThe Art of Teaching Mathematics: An Inside Look with Nelisiwe Malamlela<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Nelisiwe Malamlela is a mathematics teacher at Matatiele Primary School in the Alfred Nzo West district of the Eastern Cape. The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences Schools Enrichment Centre (AIMSSEC) awarded her for being the Top Senior Phase (Grades 7 – 9) Teacher in the <em>Mathematical Thinking</em><em> (MT) Course</em> hosted by the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) and sponsored by Standard Bank from February to June 2022. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">An enthusiastic teacher, Nelisiwe said that the training changed her teaching methods. "I am a different teacher now. The ways I plan and teach have changed. In the past, I didn't plan to accommodate the various types of learners in the class. Today, I set separate goals for low- and high achievers."</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The MT course focuses on changed teaching practices and improved understanding of mathematical concepts. During fourteen weeks of online learning, each participant was expected to complete three diagnostic tests and submit two assignments. The course covered numbers, algebra, geometry, measures, data handling and probability. "Completing the course made me look at my teaching methodologies. I now keep the learners active throughout the lesson. They show a thumbs up or -down when I check on their understanding, meaning I know when a learner falls behind. No longer is a lesson a session where I am the only one talking. I allow learners to discuss the concepts, do the exercises, and record the lessons." </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Nelisiwe's learners enjoy her new teaching methods, and her school's mathematics results also improved. Subsequently, she is attending the next AIMSSEC course <em>Mathematical Communication and Language</em> (MCL) “I believe everyone can change. When teachers change their teaching techniques, they start promoting mathematics, develop an interest in mathematics among the learners, and produce learners who love mathematics." </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Public schools need to receive the necessary resources from the government. But, said, Nelisiwe, "teachers do not have to spend money on resources when the government lets them down. The lecturers showed me how to make resources from scrap paper and everyday household items and how to link mathematical concepts to daily life with examples."</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Neliswe concluded that all children could do mathematics. "Learning mathematics is like climbing a mountain - you must do it one small step at a time. It is easier than most learners think. Mathematics is beautiful and exciting as long as the teacher makes it so." </span></p>
<p></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><img src="/Content/Images/uploaded/Nelisiwe Malamlela_square.png" alt="" width="271" height="271" /></span></p>urn:store:1:blog:post:24https://www.samf.ac.za/en/add-a-new-blog-post-2Celebrating Women's Day with Prof Kerstin Jordaan<p><span>As a B3 NRF-rated(1) academic, Prof Kerstin Jordaan, the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) executive director, is one of only three B-rated female mathematicians in the country. The National Research Foundation (NRF) rating system (introduced in 1984) is a critical driver in the NRF's plan to build an internationally competing science system in South Africa. Prof Jordaan is only the fifth female in her field to receive this rating since 1984<strong>.</strong></span></p>
<p><img src="/Content/Images/uploaded/Prof Kerstin Jordaan.png" alt="" width="220" height="220" /></p>
<p>Although she initially planned to study medicine, she commenced her undergraduate studies in psychology. "Because I had to choose some teaching subjects, I chose mathematics," says Jordaan. "Everybody said that you'd always have a job if you can teach mathematics. However, I soon realised that I did not resonate with psychology because it consists of unproven and varied theories whereas mathematics is complete, analytical, and logical. It has a structure in which you can prove ideas so that you know that they are absolutely true within this logical system, and it has physical applications. Mathematics is the language of science."</p>
<p>But what is mathematics research? According to Jordaan, there are two broad classifications of mathematics research: pure and applied mathematics. Pure mathematics, her research field, is about developing new mathematical techniques, formulas, and theorems. It often involves working in an abstract realm so that what you prove has greater generality. This means that the physical applications are not necessarily immediately obvious. An applied mathematician would take known formulas, theorems and results, analysing and interpreting them to apply to a real-world situation. The mathematics needed to solve real life problems or develop new technology is frequently developed long before an application is found. The development of the computer is an example of applied mathematics. According to Jordaan, much of the mathematics needed to develop the computer already existed long before the first computer was built. There are many branches of mathematics that played a role in the computer's development.</p>
<p>"As a mathematician, your work consists of building a knowledge base, almost like building a house of bricks," she explains. "Each layer of bricks you lay has a solid foundation underneath it with no holes, gaps, or errors. And then you keep expanding this house. Another analogy I use is that the body of knowledge in mathematics is like a tree. Each branch is a different field of specialisation. What I know may be part of one leaf of the whole tree. As I research, I expand my knowledge in that leaf. However, to do that, I need all the knowledge about the smaller branches, big branches, and the tree's trunk. The trunk is what we learn about mathematics at school and university."</p>
<p>Although women are the minority in mathematics research, Jordaan says she thoroughly enjoys it. "It gives me time to think about and analyse a problem, searching for solutions." She clarifies that mathematics research is not about sitting in isolation in front of a computer all day. "It is an exciting and intellectually stimulating career compatible with teaching and family life. One works with people all the time! It's creative and, at the same time, logical."</p>
<p>Jordaan encourages girls to practice mathematics outside of the classroom. Who knows? Maybe you'll be one of the future's top mathematics researchers!</p>
<p>The SAMF offers annual primary and high school competitions, which open for registration every January. The organisation also partnered with MyTutor.chat. In this web-based application, anyone interested in mathematics and problem-solving can practice on their own time. There are also many resources for practising mathematics on the SAMF's YouTube channel.</p>urn:store:1:blog:post:25https://www.samf.ac.za/en/high-school-teachers-are-being-upskilled-to-prevent-the-decline-in-mathematics-in-south-africaHigh School teachers are being upskilled to prevent the decline in Mathematics in South Africa<p>Learning about Mathematics is more than just learning to calculate numbers. Mathematics at school level develops children’s cognitive skills, their ability to abstract and think logically, and to think critically and solve problems across all areas of life.</p>
<p dir="ltr">In South Africa, a worrying trend has started to emerge. Fewer learners each year choose to continue with pure maths from Grade 10 onwards and every year, the number of matriculants who pass pure maths grows smaller. In fact, “Less than 30% of all matric students take maths and only half of them pass their exams.” - <a href="https://businesstech.co.za/news/business/600426/south-africas-declining-mathematics-numbers-a-concern/">Business Tech</a></p>
<p>Dropping pure maths regrettably affects learners' futures. Pure maths is required for entry into university courses like accounting and science, and without it, many students are excluded from these future career prospects. Thus, the low entry and high drop rate of pure maths negatively affect learners' career prospects, and in the bigger picture, has very negative effects on South Africa’s future. Fewer and fewer highly skilled South Africans enter the job market in careers requiring high-level mathematical skills, translating into skills shortages throughout all sectors.</p>
<p>In light of this, the Department of Science and Technology (DSI) has partnered with the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) to expand the Siyanqoba Olympiad Training Programme from 10 to approximately 27 centres. SAMF will partner with universities, science centres, schools, provincial education departments and other NPOs to ensure that the centres are well spread throughout the country. The programme, focusing on non-routine mathematical problem-solving skills, and will change to a blended model consisting of pre-recorded webinars and support sessions by coaches and tutors at the different centres. Starting in 2023 the Maths Learning centres will provide high school learners across the country with a weekly dose of Maths Problem Solving challenges. </p>
<p>Limina Education Services is proud to be a small part of this exciting project. Limina’s team have developed a fully online training programme for the teachers, lecturers and students from the learning centres to solve non-routine mathematical problems, and coach learners in this. The first intake of this course will take place from 11 August - 29 September 2022. In future, more teachers will be invited.</p>
<p>The Limina Maths Problem Solving course for high school teachers was created by Alwyn Olivier, retired mathematics lecturer and Dr Erna Lampen from the University of Stellenbosch.</p>
<p>Dr Isabel Tarling, the founder and director of Limina, says that Limina’s online courses were designed to provide access to many South Africans who do not have access to the internet. Limina’s online learning platform is a data zero site, meaning teachers can access the content without paying high data costs. She adds: "Our learning designs chunk the modules into bite-size pieces and provide these as downloadable, off-line packages that teachers and students can download and access when they don’t have internet access. Seeing as many students and teachers can access mobile phones but not always computers, all our courses are optimised for mobile access to allow greater access for all."</p>
<p>This initiative will upskill more teachers, in a waterfall approach, to have a sustainable influence as its reach spreads to more learners across South Africa. With the learning taking place at the Maths Learning Centres, we hope to see more learners, especially from remote, rural or resource-constrained areas choosing pure maths and pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and maths innovation. Perhaps in a few years, we’ll have enough engineers to keep the lights on.</p>urn:store:1:blog:post:23https://www.samf.ac.za/en/teaching-mathematics-is-a-callingTeaching mathematics is a calling<p>On 19 June 2021, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences Schools Enrichment Centre (AIMSSEC) announced Bianca Chimanikire from the Leap Science and Maths School in Jane Furse, Sekhukhune East District, Limpopo as the top student for its <em>2021 Language and Communication to develop mathematical knowledge, understanding and skills for the 21st Century (LC SAMO 2) Online Course</em>. The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) coordinated the training, which was sponsored by Old Mutual.</p>
<p><img src="/Content/Images/uploaded/Untitled design (15).png" alt="" width="220" height="220" /></p>
<p>Bianca started her career as a science teacher in Zimbabwe in 2002. Little did she know that she would find her calling when she accepted a position at a school in South Africa seven years later. "The mathematics teacher at the time left the school on short notice, and the principal asked me to stand in for her. Three years later, I was teaching both science and mathematics," she says. "Because the principal was impressed with the performance of the learners in my mathematics class, he asked me to remain in the position and recruited a new science teacher instead."</p>
<p>Finally, Bianca could teach the subject she loves most. When she applied to study teaching, her first choice was mathematics. "But, because there was a shortage of science teachers, the tertiary institution decided to channel me into teaching science."</p>
<p>It is common knowledge that mathematics education in South Africa is facing many difficulties. Because there is a shortage of mathematics teachers, the biggest challenge for Bianca is the number of learners per class. "When I was teaching at a public school, my smallest Grade 9 group had 78 learners," she explains. "At one of the other schools, I had 269 Grade 9 learners divided into three classes. It is impossible to give each learner the attention they deserve when groups are so big. The ideal class size is 25 to 30 learners."</p>
<p>Despite all the challenges, Bianca finds joy in teaching mathematics. She recalls one specific learner who made her proud of being a mathematics teacher. "When Pearl* transferred to my Grade 12 class, she failed mathematics in Grades 10 and 11. Through hard work and dedication, Pearl passed the subject at the end of the year. She went ahead to become a passionate and skilled mathematics teacher!"</p>
<p>Parents and learners often dismiss the importance of learning mathematics at school. "As a subject, mathematics develops logical thinking. It teaches you thinking skills that you can apply in all other subjects and life," says Bianca. "You will find that the person selling tomatoes on the corner of the street, who passed mathematics, have a different approach to their business than someone who did not take mathematics at school."</p>
<p>According to Bianca, mathematics is the mother of all sciences. That is why she enters all the learners at the school where she teaches into the annual Old Mutual South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO). "Before COVID-19, it was challenging to find the time to train the learners for the Olympiad because we must focus on the school curriculum to cover the syllabus for the year," she explains. "But, one good thing came out of the pandemic. Because the school could not practice sports, the usual Wednesday sports-time became the time when I would train all the school's learners for the Mathematics Olympiad."</p>
<p>Now that takes a mathematics teacher with passion! "I realise that teaching mathematics is my calling," Bianca concluded. "I am thankful towards Old Mutual, who made it possible for me to attend the AIMSSEC LC SAMO 2 Online Course this year. I thought I knew it all, but academics in education constantly develop new methods that improve the way we teach. Therefore, I encourage all mathematics teachers to attend this training. It will open your eyes to new possibilities and help improve your school's performance in mathematics."</p>
<p><em>*Name changed to protect the identity of the learner.</em></p>
<p>// END</p>
<p>One hundred and nine teachers attended the Mathematical Thinking course online in August 2020 following the cancellation of the residential module due to COVID-19. Ninety-five teachers who obtained merit or distinction in the 1st level last year continued with the Language and Communication to develop mathematical knowledge, understanding and skills for the 21st Century course this year. The courses format combines home-study, writing assignments and participation in live sessions on Saturdays via Google Meet and Classroom.</p>urn:store:1:blog:post:22https://www.samf.ac.za/en/making-a-difference-in-mathematics-educationMaking a tangible difference in mathematics education<p><em>By Prof. Kerstin Jordaan, Executive Director of the SAMF</em></p>
<p><span>Greetings, readers! In this, our last newsletter of the year, the South African Mathematics Foundation celebrates its successes and reveal some of its plans for the coming year. Although COVID-19 brought about many challenges, the results from our learner development programmes show many dedicated teachers in South Africa have the skills and experience to teach mathematics.</span></p>
<p><span><img src="/Content/Images/uploaded/mathematics education 01.PNG" alt="african school" width="1000" height="394" /></span></p>
<p></p>
<p>The Foundation successfully organised several learner development programmes in 2021. There was the NESTLÉ NESPRAY South African Mathematics Challenge (SAMC) for primary school learners, the Old Mutual South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO) for high school learners, the ASSA South African Mathematics Team Competition (previously known as the Inter-provincial Mathematics Competition), and the South African Tertiary Mathematics Olympiad for undergraduates.</p>
<p>As part of our learner development programmes, we ensured international participation for South African learners in the 2021 Pan-African Mathematical Olympiad (PAMO) and International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).</p>
<p>Our teacher empowerment programmes for 2021 were the Teacher Problem-solving Course for primary school teachers and the Mathematics Teaching Online Course for high school and FET teachers. In 2020, the Foundation partnered with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences Schools Enrichment Centre (AIMSSEC) to aid teachers in continued professional development (CPD). This online course, now in its second year, is proving to be highly effective in helping teachers prepare their learners for the SAMO.</p>
<p>On the 16th of October, the Foundation and its benefactors celebrated top teachers and learners at its Annual Awards Function. You can read more about these achievers in the next section of the newsletter.</p>
<p>The Foundation aims to continue its various learner development and teacher empowerment programmes in 2022 and believes that the results will be visible at next year's Annual Awards Function.</p>
<p>However, to make a tangible difference in mathematics education, the remuneration of teachers in this scarce-skill discipline will need attention. Attracting mathematically talented young people into the teaching profession is becoming increasingly difficult.</p>
<p>Mathematically skilled people worldwide get drawn into engineering, accountancy, actuarial science, and other scientific and financial professions. The time has come to reconsider ways to narrow the salary gap between careers in mathematics in corporate South Africa, and that offered to mathematics teachers.</p>
<p>The reality is that South Africa's education system is inadequately equipped for mass education. Although there have been many efforts at improvement, the system still produces teachers who are, by and large, not adequately trained. How will this affect the next generation? Should the Foundation and other organisations involved in the upliftment effort not make a greater concerted effort to draw the best young people into the system as teachers and adequately prepare them for the task, we may be staring at education's collapse.</p>
<p>But, where do we start? One way would be to look at a differentiated salary structure. Such differentiation should have to go hand-in-hand with evidence of improved teaching and mathematical skills. There would have to be some minimum level of performance, ability and qualification. Perhaps the solution is a professional accreditation similar to the accountancy profession, where one must pass a board exam before one can practice. And then, based on that accreditation, teachers get higher pay from the industry.</p>
<p>Would this happen in my lifetime? Perhaps not, and that is why the Foundation is grateful for companies like Old Mutual and AECI for partnering with us and AIMSSEC to ensure continued professional development for mathematics teachers. Without skilled and dedicated teachers, the pool of mathematically proficient learners will not develop further.</p>
<p>As we enter the last stretch of the academic year, I want to use this opportunity to wish the teachers and their learners all the best for the upcoming year-end exams. May your hard work be rewarded, and may you enjoy a safe and peaceful festive season.</p>urn:store:1:blog:post:21https://www.samf.ac.za/en/mathematical-problems-on-the-chessboardMathematical problems on the chessboard<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">By Prof. Kerstin Jordaan, Executive Director of the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF)</span></span></p>
<p> </p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">The Netflix television series, </span><a class="editor-rtfLink" href="https://www.netflix.com/za/title/80234304" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">The Queen's Gambit</span></a><span data-preserver-spaces="true">, made chess popular again. The narrative plays off in 1950 and tells the story of a young orphan girl and her unusual talent for chess. </span></span></p>
<p> </p>
<p><span data-preserver-spaces="true"><img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/ss-usa/companies/MzawMDE2srA0BAA/uploads/Queens_Gambit_June_2021.png" alt="" width="700" /></span></p>
<p> </p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>Chess as an aid for education</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">Playing chess from a young age helps children </span><a class="editor-rtfLink" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-playing-chess" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">develop</span></a><span data-preserver-spaces="true"> problem-solving, social and relationship-building, and thinking skills. In addition, studies reveal that chess players develop perspective, have improved memory, and increased intelligence. The game deepens focus, elevates creativity, and increases self-awareness. Scientists found that the complex mental flexibility chess demands could help protect older people from dementia. Likewise, it improves attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">Watu Kobese, an international chess master and instructor at </span><a class="editor-rtfLink" href="https://youtu.be/ZDFwlbRTadk" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">Blue Frontier Path Academy</span></a><span data-preserver-spaces="true">, says that "historically, chess has been looked at as a sport. But chess is much more than that – it is an aid for education. I help learners understand how they can use the concepts from chess in their academics and everyday life."</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">"These concepts are revealed through the nature of the game, the layout of the board, and the value of the pieces. Every piece is worth a certain number of points. As players exchange pieces, they are calculating points using mathematics to gauge the effectiveness of their moves. However, it is not just a question of mathematical value since value during the game is not absolute. In the same way, value in life is not absolute. Sometimes players exchange points for an equivalent amount of benefits, which teaches them about the changing nature of value. This understanding of value can then be related to different aspects of life."</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>The relationship between chess and mathematics</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">Chess is based on some mathematical elements as the values and the geometrical moves of the pieces. In essence, it is a game that requires players to apply skills that exceeds the mere calculation of variations. Playing chess is an application of capability.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">Researchers conducted numerous studies on the relationship between chess and mathematics. One such </span><a class="editor-rtfLink" href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2158244015596050" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">study</span></a><span data-preserver-spaces="true"> reveals that chess increases mathematical problem-solving skills because:</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<ul>
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">mathematics and chess are isomorphic fields; by playing chess, mathematical theories are made less obscure and thus more manageable;</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true"> a chess player must practice high skills like planning, abstract thought, calculation of variants, monitoring of strategies, and thoughts that are crucial for mathematical abilities; </span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">a chess player recognises the triumphs and losses as a result of his selections on the board, the accuracy of which is proportionate to the method and the efforts of the player himself; this is thought to improve the empowerment of the player and, consequently, the belief in his own capabilities; </span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">the chess player becomes mindful of the need for sustaining attention, directed to both the simple components of the game and to the analytic relationship between elements; attention that is already probably present in the participant, but that the natural environment and habits tend to diminish; and</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">chess is a fun and fulfilling activity that stimulates children to play more. In other words, chess gets a "virtuous circle" started. This circle can also be instrumental in developing good mathematical abilities.</span></li>
</ul>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">Pepe Cuenca, a Spanish chess Grand Master and civil engineer with a PhD in applied mathematics, </span><a class="editor-rtfLink" href="https://news.stlpublicradio.org/arts/2019-03-28/on-chess-chess-and-mathematics" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">summarises</span></a><span data-preserver-spaces="true"> the relationship as follows:</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<ul>
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">Chess encourages thinking skills of higher-order;</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">Interpretation of positions has a lot in common with mathematical problems;</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">It introduces a coordinates system and geometric concepts (files, rows, diagonals);</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">Chess demands continual calculation and promotes visual memory and spatial reasoning skills; and</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">It increases the ability to predict and expect outcomes.</span></li>
</ul>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">At the 2014 Chess and Mathematics Conference held in London, </span><a class="editor-rtfLink" href="https://www.foxandhoward.co.uk/all-authors/david-wells/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">David Wells,</span></a><span data-preserver-spaces="true"> a former mathematics teacher, discussed the </span><a class="editor-rtfLink" href="https://londonchessconference.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/The-Connections-between-Chess-and-Mathematics.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">connections between chess and mathematics</span></a><span data-preserver-spaces="true">. Both are philosophical, require tactics, strategy, creativity, and complete analysis, and revolve around proof and proving.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;" data-preserver-spaces="true">Dr Leicha Bragg, a senior lecturer in mathematics education at Deakin University in Australia, says: "Games may have the potential to provide students with a mathematically focused activity while engaging them through a perception of fun."</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">So, if you want to help your child improve his mathematical skills, consider joining a </span><a class="editor-rtfLink" href="https://chessa.co.za/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span data-preserver-spaces="true">chess club</span></a><span data-preserver-spaces="true"> in your area.</span></span></p>