By Angelique Serrao
A revolutionary new maths workbook, printed on newsprint paper, was launched this week with the promise that it would change the face of education in South Africa forever.
The Maths 911 workbooks - a collaboration between Independent Newspapers, the Liberty Life Foundation, Boston Business College, the Learning Channel and the department of education - was launched at a high school in Cape Town.
The maths workbook is a cheap, effective way of delivering curriculum work to pupils across the country. Called a living textbook, Maths 911 is a Grade 11 and 12 workbook printed on newsprint and placed in a file that pupils can write in and keep for themselves.
Initially, 120 000 copies have been sponsored and will be delivered to more than 650 schools across the country that achieved between 60 and 80 percent in the 2007 matric exam.
Pupils' progress will be monitored over the next year to test the efficiency of the project.
The launch took place at Aloe Secondary School in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town.
Last year, they had a disappointing 70 percent matric pass rate, said principal Keith Damon.
"Our maths marks have not been very strong," said Damon. "There's no doubt this workbook will benefit the pupils. It's simple to use, it makes the work understandable and it looks attractive."
Minister of Education Naledi Pandor was excited about the initiative and said it was partnerships with the government, the private sector and the media that would help to solve many of the challenges faced in education.
"I believe this will be a very helpful supplementary resource for schools, and for some children this will be their only maths textbook."
She added: "We have seen through the Study Buddies that through newspapers we can get really good material to young people. It has proved to be very popular among learners. It's cheap, it's practical and it's easy to pass around."
A delighted Zimkhita Macozoma, a Grade 12 pupil, said of the workbook: "It's really helpful. It covers everything we need to do for the whole year, and the activities have the solutions.
"Our normal textbooks don't do that, so if you can't get the answer, you don't know why all the time."