Jansen weighs in on education crisis

Johannesburg - The government's approach to the need to improve maths is the same as that under apartheid, University of the Free State vice-chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen said on Thursday.

“Neither Hendrick Verwoerd (the architect of apartheid) nor the current minister of education believe that a black child can excel in mathematics,” said Jansen.

Renowned academic Professor Jonathan Jansen says the government's approach to the need to improve maths is the same as that under apartheid. Credit: Associated Press

He was delivering the 2012 Helen Suzman Foundation public lecture titled “The Mathematics Of Democracy” in Johannesburg.

He said more and more pupils were taking up maths literacy, the easy version of the mathematics subject.

“We have reduced education to a forced-feeding exercise that takes place before the examinations.

“We have given up trying to find ways of dealing with the problem.”

Schools compensate poor teaching of mathematics with a poor, less challenging subject.

“The loser is the pupil, who realises that their dream of studying engineering or accounting at university has been thwarted as they do not qualify based on the school subject called maths literacy.”

Principals were under pressure to improve matric results and performance, and therefore more pupils went for easier and poorer subjects.

“The minister has a reputation to protect in the eyes of the presidency and the public.”

Commenting on the violence in schools, Jansen said it was the result of a failure of the education system for young people.

Strikes in the mines and on farms in the Western Cape were also because the country had failed young people.

“If we do not fix the education crisis now, this democracy will implode in 10 years' time... and we will be in serious trouble.” - Sapa