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Mathematics Competitions Back on Track after COVID-19

Monday, 07 September 2020

The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) is happy to announce that its two main mathematics enrichment programmes for primary and secondary learners are back on track after a postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nestlé Nespray South African Mathematics Challenge (SAMC) for Grades 6 and 7 will be taking place on 10 September, and on 16 September for Grades 4 and 5. "The SAMC usually takes place over three rounds," says Prof Kerstin Jordaan the executive director at the SAMF. "But due to the pandemic, the structure of the competition changed and the second round in September will also be the final round. The first round took place in March this year where more than 89,000 learners participated. Just over 9,300 learners from 396 schools qualified for the final round."

The subsequent rounds of the Old Mutual South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO), that is co-sponsored by the South African Institute for Chartered Accounts (SAICA), will be taking place on 10 September. Due to the staggered return of learners to schools, the Junior division for Grades 8 and 9 has been reduced to a two-round competition. The format of the Senior division for Grades 10 to 12 remained unchanged and these learners will still compete over three rounds. Of the 87 000 learners who took part in the first round in March this year, more than 11 000 Juniors qualified for the second round while of the 7 000 Seniors that participated in the second round, 110 Seniors qualified for the final round.

"The new normal brought about by the pandemic, required us to rethink the format of these and other learner and teacher development programmes that we offer,” explains Jordaan. “Our aim is to embrace technology in these unprecedented times to create an even broader base for mathematics participation by learners and teachers by investigating online participation for next year’s programmes."

The top learners and schools in both the SAMC and SAMO will be acknowledged for their achievements at the annual SAMF Awards Function that will be taking place at the end of November.

"We would like to take this opportunity to wish the learners all the best for the upcoming Challenge," says Jordaan. "And we want to thank all the teachers and parents for their continued support to create a mathematically enabling environment, which provides opportunities for all learners to develop to their fullest potential."

Jordaan concluded by saying that mathematics plays a critical role in the technological environment and participation in the Olympiad is just one of the steps to inculcate a culture of mathematics among the South African youth.

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