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Love Trust partners with Thembisa primary school to help learners overcome Maths challenges

The Love Trust is working with a Thembisa primary school to help learners overcome Maths problems Picture: Supplied

The Love Trust is working with a Thembisa primary school to help learners overcome Maths problems Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 4, 2022

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Education experts have expressed concern abou the dire state of maths skills among the country's llearners.

According to a Cape Argus report, of the almost 600 000 candidates who wrote matric in 2020, a meagre 5.3% scored 60% or more in mathematics. Worse still, was that the only 125 526 candidates achieved the required pass rate - a meagre 30% .

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In order to address this skills deficit, the Love Trust has developed a program to offer help to learners, and in celebration of International Day of Mathematics, it partnered with Nokuphila Primary School in Thembisa, to offer extended support for learners.

The school's Head of Department of senior grades, Shepherd Chihwehwete said mathematics was vital for the learners because it allows them to make sense of their world, and build a solid foundation for success not only during their school years but in later stages in their lives.

He added that maths was an important tool to help them develop their logical reasoning skills while dealing with practical challenges.

"But even pre-pandemic, learners in South Africa have been underperforming in Maths with many researchers trying to understand why. Although there are a whole host of factors involved such as social and economic, public and learner perception of the subject, government reform, and so on, one of the biggest factors identified was access to good quality teaching of the subject," Chihwehwete said.

Professor of Mathematics Education at UNISA, Zingiswa Jojo, said the teaching of mathematics in South African schools has been pronounced to be among the worst in the world.

"Unacknowledged poor teaching of mathematics in a majority of public schools deprive many learners access to both higher education and modern, knowledge-intensive work skills," Jojo added.

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The Love Trust hopes to address these issues by providing the best quality education and support for their learners, both past and present, in core subjects such as mathematics.

The Trust says the welfare of their graduates is of great concern as the quality of the education leaerners receive outside of Nokuphila is unknown.

For this reason it is offering voluntary extra tuition for those in need and busy planning further expansions to include grades 8 and 9 by 2023.

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Chihwehwete said a recent survey found that many learners drop out of school.

"That's really worrying, considering their early schooling years and their potential. We, therefore, stepped up our voluntary offer to our alumni for extra tuition, especially in core subjects such as English home language, natural sciences, mathematics, and economic and management sciences," he said.

Teachers from grade four and upwards volunteer to adopt a learner who they help tutor beyond their term at Nokuphila and provide them with pastoral care and guidance. This they offer to all the learners they’ve successfully tracked.

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Chihwehwete said that thanks to the strong ties they have with the parents and the fact that learners often still have younger siblings attending Nokuphila, they still keep in touch and are up to date on their alumni’s performance.

"We've also got WhatsApp groups containing our alumni, so we are always in the loop with what is happening in the lives of most of our alumni. In the adoption program, all the teachers who have adopted some of the alumni update one another as well," he said.

Chihwehwete encouraged other schools to adopt similiar programs to help learners when they leave school.

"This will help protect them against that sense of isolation, loneliness, and abandonment. It fosters strong social bonds between the learners the school, the community. That they have left does not mean to say that we are completely separated," he said.

He advised teachers and parents to encourage the development of self-confidence in learners struggling with maths.

"Don’t be shy to ask for assistance if you need it. I hope learners can develop a positive attitude. A positive attitude towards Maths and the effort put in matters. Effort is more important than ability, as effort builds into ability," Chihwehwete said

He praised the volunteers adding that it's these actions that shape and mould the present into a future of which we can all be proud.

He said donations received go towards digital devices and data plans for their learners as well as helping cover some of the transport costs for learners as the extra tuition is provided on certain weekends at the school.

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