Maths is here to stay, but you can pass the grade even if you fail the subject
Mathematics, in its various forms, would remain a fixture and compulsory in SA’s schooling system, the Department of Basic Education said on Thursday.
In June, there were suggestions that the department was considering amending promotion requirements that could result in key subjects such as mathematics being removed as a compulsory requirement in the progression of pupils to senior grades.
On Thursday the department’s spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, said the proposal on the table did not mean mathematics would be removed as a compulsory subject in the system. Rather, pupils in the senior phase (grades 7, 8, and 9) would still be offered and required to take up mathematics in whatever form.
Crucially, however, they would be allowed to progress to higher grades should they fail mathematics, but still pass other subjects.
This is still likely to fuel more criticism of SA’s education system, which has been repeatedly slated for poor outcomes, especially in mathematics and science.
"Mathematics is compulsory from grade 1 to 9 in the South African schooling system," Mhlanga said.
He said that from grade 10, learners have an option of taking up one of the following three forms of mathematics:
(a) Mathematics (as we know it)
(b) Mathematical literacy (for learners who do not intend pursuing post schooling careers that will require mathematics as part of the admission requirements and
(c) Technical mathematics (for learners who intend pursuing technology-related careers).
"It, therefore, needs to be understood that there is no learner in the system who at any point does not offer one or another form of mathematics until they complete their grade 12," Mhlanga said.
"This makes mathematics, in whatever form, compulsory for all learners in the system. This is the position of the department regarding the offering of mathematics by SA learners and the department is not intending to change this position now or in the near future…"
Mhlanga added: "The minister would like to reassure the nation that the importance of mathematics will continue to be highlighted in our curriculum design, as well as education planning."
The department had published a set of proposals pertaining to minimum promotion requirements for the senior phase (grades 7, 8, and 9). The proposals were not new but merely aligning the minimum promotion requirements with those currently being applied in grade 10, 11 and 12, said Mhlanga.
At present the pass mark for grades 7 to 9 was higher than the pass mark for matric (grade 10 to 12).
The proposals were:
• Pass four subjects at 40%, one of which is a home language;
• Pass any other four subjects at 30%; and
• Mathematics removed as a compulsory promotion requirement (if the pupil will not be taking the subject up to grade 12).