Chantyl Mulder, Senior Executive at SAICA (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants) says, “Mathematics is the gateway to many key professions such as accounting, engineering, actuarial sciences, medicine and more. We need to encourage and support our learners to study mathematics, but more than that, we need to aim for good results.”
South Africa has a dire shortage of promising mathematics results – a problem the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) takes very seriously.
At this year’s SAICA-sponsored Maths Olympiads awards ceremony, Professor Poobhalan Pillay, Emeritus Professor at UKZN’s School of Mathematical Sciences, reflected that the applications of mathematics to a variety of disciplines has grown at a rapid rate over the last few decades. “Investment decisions in the stock market are no longer being made by financiers, but by PhD mathematicians and the immensely complex computer programs they devise,” said Professor Pillay.
“Whether it be image processing, DVDs, GPRS, investments in stock markets, design of state-of-the-art aircraft, cancer research – all use mathematics. If you are thinking of making mathematics a career, do not be afraid that you may be without a job. More and more business houses are seeking mathematicians to help run their organisations.”
There is a dire need for mathematicians in South Africa. In the past 3 years, the number of students interested in maths has declined by 75 000 and of those the average mark for the 2011 maths paper was only 29%. Matric maths results have become a national issue that demands urgent attention. If this country is to make any sort of headway in its crucial skills development drive, these results need to improve, and fast.
SAICA is trying to make a difference by offering students the Thuthuka Bursary Fund. This fund offers over 350 bursaries each year to underprivileged students, but only with exceptional marks in mathematics.
While SAICA can only do so much, it is up to teachers, parents and indeed the youth to take control of South Africa’s future. Without improved matric results, unemployment will continue to rise as skills continue to decline. Mathematics is a sure way to build a future for many capable young citizens and there are no marks that cannot be improved without a little push in the right direction.
The future of South Africa lies in your hands, you are its future leaders! So if you are able to, take maths, don’t drop it because it is too difficult or seems like a lot of work. You just need to put in a little effort, ask teachers for help, pay attention in class, get extra lessons if necessary…
You can make a difference!