The Department of Education recently announced its proposal to remove mathematics as a compulsory pass subject in grades 7, 8, and 9, causing concern among education experts in South Africa.
Speaking to the City Press, Grahamstown Area Distress Relief Association Education manager Dr Ashley Westaway said removing mathematics as a compulsory subject would cause the education system to produce fewer scientists, engineers, and accountants.
She said if this change is implemented, performance in mathematics in grades 10-12 will continue to decline and an increasing percentage of students could choose to study mathematical literacy.
The City Press reported that a spokesperson for the department dismissed the idea that the change would be detrimental to the country’s education system.
The department said pass requirements in grades 7, 8, and 9 should be consistent with those in grades 10-12.
“It makes sense that at secondary school level the promotion requirements be the same. At the moment they are not and that is what we are correcting,” said the department.
Quality of education
Westaway said improving the quality of mathematics education in grades 7, 8, and 9 would have a positive effect, as opposed to removing the subject as a compulsory promotional requirement.
“South Africa’s education system resembles a conveyor belt of mediocrity rather than an investment in the future generation,” she said.
“The purpose is to move the masses through the system rather than to educate them.”
The Department of Education previously allowed grade 9 students with mathematics marks above 20% to progress to grade 10, as long as they passed their other subjects.
In 2016, the DA’s Gavin Davis wrote an open letter enquiring about the upward adjustment of matric marks, particularly mathematics and maths literacy.