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SPECIAL REPORT: Maths and science success

Four years ago, SAICA was determined to boost the throughput of desperately needed African chartered accountants [CAs(SA)]. As a result, the Institute formed the Thuthuka Maths and Science Development Camps, to address the issue of literacy and numeracy at secondary school level.

Provincial development camps represent an important component of the Thuthuka programme.

The Human Sciences Research Council was recently commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to develop a tracking and monitoring tool for following progress at the Thuthuka & DST maths and science development camps.

The research revealed that in 2005, only 6,3% of schools were reached in all nine provinces compared to a phenomenal 11,64% in 2008. In 2005 a total of 1 111 learners enrolled for the camps in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, and Limpopo provinces compared to 2008, when a total of 2 005 students enrolled.

“An impressive 88% got through their first year examinations, 82% passed second year and 67% passed third year”, says Gugu Makhanya, Project Director: Transformation, SAICA. “These statistics are well ahead of the national averages. Our students have done extraordinarily well, with the ongoing provincial development camps having played an important role.”
She refers to the 2004 matric results as a primary motivation for the camps.

“In 2004, 467 985 learners wrote senior certificate, of whom only 39 939 wrote higher grade mathematics. Among that number,
24 143 (5% of the total) passed, and 7 236 (1,5% of the total) of whom were black Africans.”

The main aim of the camps is to target some 1 800 grade 11 and grade 12 learners a year, selected on the basis of their mathematics, science and accounting potential. From the 1 357 learners that attended in 2007, 671 were grade 11 and 686 were grade 12 learners.

The learners are then encouraged to choose either accounting or the SET professions (Science, Engineering, Technology) as a career. Most of the students from grade 11 chose to study accounting and commerce.

The 2007 grade 12 learner academic performance revealed that the majority of grade 12 learners that attended the camps wrote their final examinations in 2007. An astonishing 93,49% of the learners passed their final examination and, around 70% passed their examination with a matriculation exemption.

Author: Edward Makwana, Project Director: Communications, SAICA.