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Johannesburg - Grade 9 pupils who will have to decide which subjects they will take in their final year have been warned to think twice before dropping maths as one of their subjects.
The chief executive of the Actuarial Society of SA, Mike McDougall, said the recent StatsSA bleak unemployment statistics, which showed that young people accounted for 90 percent of unemployed and had never worked, should be a strong motivator for pupils to work harder.
He said pupils should aim to matriculate with maths as a subject because that would enable them to study in fields with good employment prospects.
“With the mid-year examinations fresh in their memories, many will be tempted to drop maths as a subject in the hope of making their workload a little lighter for the rest of their school careers,” said McDougall.
But he said no pupils should be allowed to opt for maths literacy without fully understanding the implications of not matriculating with pure maths as a subject.
“The reality is that almost all the careers that offer good job prospects to graduates require maths as a subject,” he said.
McDougall said the actuarial profession, for example, had a “practically zero unemployment rate”, and other professions, such as engineering, medicine and accounting, that enjoyed low unemployment rates, all required maths as a subject.
However, despite the apparent benefits of having maths, pupils were still choosing maths literacy.
A South African Institute of Race Relations report, which was published last year, revealed that more pupils were taking maths literacy compared to maths.
In 2008, when the NCS curriculum was introduced, there were 35 000 more pupils who took maths than those who did maths literacy.
By last year, the ratio had reversed and there were 65 000 more pupils who took maths literacy than those who took maths.
Apart from the fact that maths literacy was considerably easier than maths and pupils opted for it because they wanted to increase their chances of passing, there were reports of pupils being forced by schools to take math literacy in an attempt to keep the schools’ pass rates high.