Ricochet News

South Africa’s basic maths and arithmetic competency as dire as the literacy statistics

Dec 13, 2017
South Africa’s basic maths and arithmetic competency as dire as the literacy statistics

Following on the disturbing literacy statistics coming out of both the University of Pretoria which found that eight out of ten Grade 4 pupils ‘still cannot read at an appropriate level’ and with the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) survey which found that South Africa was last out of 50 countries, school maths & arithmetic performance in South Africa is as abysmal and lags behind the rest of the world.

With government poised to lower the pass rate again and considering dropping maths as a compulsory subject, the 195 young South African learners competing at the upcoming 17th PAMA Global Abacus & Mental Arithmetic Championships taking place on the 28th December in Sandton are proof that the right teaching methods and early intervention can turn the tide.

This, according to Marlene Mouton, Chairperson of the South African branch of PAMA and the driver of the A+Students abacus education method through its 620 teaching facilities around the country, is a break-through in a country that ranks 75th out of 76 countries in the OECD rankings and near the very bottom of many other international maths education rankings.

“Problems in maths are evident from early grades in primary school and are compounded as learners progress through school.  Young children are not being taught basic mathematics methods – and at school are taught very long, inefficient methods to perform calculations with larger numbers.  International research shows that the younger children are exposed to primary maths methods the better equipped they will be to going into the formal school system.  Early childhood development in maths is crucial to the healthy development of a child’s cognitive development.”

“Introducing math concepts should start when children are around three years old,” says owner of A+ Students Marlene Mouton, “the age when they can gain a basic idea of the practice through language and play. Number sense or the basics of learning about numbers is the first vital math skill a child must develop before reaching kindergarten.”