The closing date looms for SA's premium mathematics competitions

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Each year, thousands of primary and high school learners participate in the NESTLÉ NESPRAY South African Mathematics Challenge (SAMC) and the Old Mutual South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO). Registration for the two competitions started earlier this month, and the closing date for entries is on 5 March 2021.

Teachers can register their learners for these competitions by downloading the entry form from the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) website. Parents who want their children to participate or learners who wish to challenge their mathematical thinking are encouraged to speak to the school principal or mathematics teacher.

Thomas Hagspihl is the Chair of the SAMO Problem Committee. He explains that both competitions aim to improve non-routine problem-solving. As such, the question papers for the final round include, but are not limited, to the following:

  1.     Some problems inspired by real life.
  2.     Easy proof-type problems.
  3.     A games question where the learner wins the game using a strategy.
  4.     A classic age-old problem.
  5.     A puzzle.
  6.     Logic questions.


Hagspihl explains that "the overriding principle is that the pupils who write our paper must be challenged, learn something new and interesting, and come away with at least one 'Aha' moment. They must have enjoyed the experience with lots to talk about, long after they completed the paper. "

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), co-sponsor of the SAMO, explains the Olympiad's importance. "Developing the pool of talented learners with an aptitude for mathematics is crucial for our country's future. SAMO gives learners the chance to develop a love for mathematics and develops much-needed problem-solving skills in our youth. This is something scarce skills professions, including the chartered accountancy profession, is in desperate need of. We can't wait to see the talent SAMO unearths this year," says Chantyl Mulder, Executive Director of Nation Building at SAICA.

For more information visit the SAMF website at or e-mail Thabo Ramaboea (SAMC project coordinator) or David Ramaboka (SAMO project coordinator).


Read Hagspihl’s original article here.

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