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New book to help improve mathematics

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) is proud to announce the launch of a new book to help learners from Grades 7 to 12 improve their mathematics skills. The book, 1000 Mathematics Olympiad Problems, by Prof Poobhalan Pillay, has been a work-in-progress since 2014 and he spent more than 8,000 hours to compile it.

Prof Pillay, who started his lecturing career in 1967, is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics, University of KwaZulu Natal and also the national academic coordinator, regional coordinator and coach for the Siyanqoba Regional Olympiad Training Programme. "The programme, organised by the SAMF and sponsored by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), concentrates on developing problem-solving skills," he explains. "Unlike the regular school curricula, that focus more on solving routine-type questions, the emphasis of the Siyanqoba programme is on the understanding of mathematical concepts rather than pure memorisation of formulae."

"The eBook, however, is suitable for all learners who take mathematics at school," says Prof Kerstin Jordaan, the executive director at SAMF. Each problem is assigned a difficulty level ranging from Level 2 to Level 10. The problems and topics have been sorted in tables at the beginning of the book so that teachers can teach a lesson which is in the curriculum and select problems from the book which are more challenging than the ones that routinely appear in school textbooks. "In this way, the problem-solving skills of learners would be greatly enhanced."

"The large variety of problems allows for a great deal of flexibility," says Pillay. "The cognitive range of the problems make them suitable for learners ranging from Grades 7 to Grades 12. Higher-level problems cater for learners who qualified for the various Olympiad programmes offered by the SAMF."

Prof Michael de Villiers, Chairperson of the Senior Problem-Solving Committee R1-R2 of the SA Mathematics Olympiad, writes in his review of the book: "I can highly recommend 1000 Mathematical Olympiad Problems for anyone interested in creative problem-solving in mathematics. It has already taken up a prized position in my private library and is bound to continue to provide me with many hours of intellectual pleasure."

Parents, teachers, and learners who would like to use the eBook to improve their mathematics can purchase it for R520 (VAT inclusive) on https://www.samf.ac.za/en/mathematics-olympiad-problems. Learners on the Siyanqoba programme will receive the eBook on a flash drive free of charge. 

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