Mathematics is a critical subject at primary and secondary schools not only because a failure in maths means learners cannot be promoted to the next grade but because proficiency in maths opens up a range of career possibilities.
It can open doors in diverse fields such as engineering (electrical, mechanical, chemical and civil) as well as green jobs such as environmental scientist, wind project engineers, wind manufacturing, solar technologists, waste management and recycling and environmental resource management — to name just a few examples.
Maths appears to not be the most favoured subject among learners with a low pass rate the unfortunate trend in South Africa. Added to this is the dire shortage of maths educators in the country. Maths educators also find it difficult to teach maths without the relevant support tools. It’s hardly surprising that South Africa has one of the lowest performance scores in mathematics in international maths surveys.
ABB South Africa’s corporate social investment programme with focused investments in community projects has recognised the need, through its work with orphans of HIV/AIDS and poorly funded schools, that learners require imaginative interventions that will support learning of maths at primary and high school levels. ABB has therefore kick-started an initiative to supply maths modules to schools and after-care centres in three provinces to help supplement maths homework in a fun and interesting way. The programme forms part of a field trial to test the efficacy of the modules.
ABB hopes that this maths initiative will impact learner performance and inject excitement back into maths. The maths module, called the Rock Series, is a fun, user-friendly, interactive programme that covers the foundation principles of mathematics and English for all grades from 0 – 12. It has more than 1,500 lessons (including trigonometry), hundreds of worksheets and interactive tests.
ABB South Africa has supplied the maths modules to the Dumani primary school in Motherwell, near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. This is one of the schools that benefits from the WWF/WESSA Eco-Schools project that forms part of ABB’s Youth-in-Energy programme. The preliminary feedback from educators and learners confirms that the computer based learning tool is fun to use and provides learners with a powerful tool to boost their mathematics understanding and skills.
“When we handed the maths modules to Dumani Primary both educators and learners were excited as it helped make their dream to come true,” says Pearl Jonas, regional co-ordinator for the WWF/WESSA Eco-Schools programme. The school’s Education Development Officer (EDO), Douglas Rwentela said, ”Mathematics is a rare skill that is needed by the society and any assistance in this regard is much appreciated.
These modules came at the time when our department (Eastern Cape-DBE) needs outside intervention from other stakeholders and businesses. These will also enhance teaching mathematics in our schools, another bonus to this, learners are to practise at own pace, it’s not classroom bound.” ABB is committed to skills development not only in its own operations in the country but is providing engineering scholarships at universities and together with customers is providing opportunities for funding graduate engineers, technicians and artisans.
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