ESSENTIAL SKILL: Statistics show that pupils’ poor performance in maths at school points to under-qualified teachers or the curriculum.
ESSENTIAL SKILL: Statistics show that pupils’ poor performance in maths at school points to under-qualified teachers or the curriculum.
Creative use of numbers in the playground assists with developing numeric skills. Picture: Tracey Adams
Creative use of numbers in the playground assists with developing numeric skills. Picture: Tracey Adams

CAPE TOWN - The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) has expressed its concern about the proposed amendment to revoke the compulsory offering of accounting with mathematics.

The Department of Basic Education published a notice on 21 July in the Government Gazette which invited input from stakeholders on its proposal to repeal mathematics as a requirement for accounting.

SAIPA defends the importance of compulsory accounting and mathematics offering in its submission to the Ministry of Basic Education by attributing the fore-mentioned subjects to skills in concrete reasoning, spatial reasoning, and logical reasoning.  

The institute further notes that it sharpens the mind and helps eliminate fuzzy thinking, equipping children with tools to defend their worldview and make smart choices.

“You can never be an accountant if you do not understand maths", warns technical executive at SAIPA, Faith Ngwenya. 

Creative use of numbers in the playground assists with developing numeric skills. Picture: Tracey Adams

Ngwenya contends that by doing away with the compulsory taking of mathematics will not solve the problem with South Africa’s appalling math results.

South Africa already has a shortage of accountants. 

By escalating the difficulty to obtain the  qualification in the required time, the problem will only be magnified. 

Ngwenya says without mathematics, aspiring accountants will face difficulty. 

The barrier of improved mathematics results is the lack of skilled mathematics teachers, says Ngwenya.

There are however ways  to increase the skill levels at schools. 

Ngwenya advises that government can identify schools with a scarcity of skilled teachers, and incentivise those with skills to teach at those schools.

“Rather than eliminating the subject because of bad results, the government should look at the way teachers are remunerated. We need good quality educators.”

SAIPA says in its submission that the progress of our civilisation has been largely due to the progress of various occupations such as agriculture, engineering, industry, medicine, and navigation.

Notably, mathematics makes a direct or indirect contribution to the development of all existing occupations. 

"Mathematics is the mirror of civilisation" - British scientist and author of Mathematics for the Million, Lancelot Hogben. 

Ngwenya presents how mathematics assists people daily with problem solving, time management, calculating tips and tax, memorising phone numbers and locker combinations, estimating distances or weight, and budgeting their own affairs.

“We are living in a world of measurements. We have to measure lengths, areas, volumes and weights. We have to fix timings, prices, wages, rates, percentages, targets and exchanges,” SAIPA reiterates in its submission.

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE