KwaZulu-Natal -

Major school governing body associations are backing a change to the Grade 12 exam timetable, which will see all maths pupils write a previously optional section on Euclidean geometry and probability.

The reintroduction of this content to the maths curriculum as compulsory, was “imperative” for pupils’ knowledge base and for the value of the National Senior (matric) Certificate, they have said.

This was in spite of the concerns of some educationists, who believed that teachers would battle with the content, and that schools would encourage pupils to take maths literacy instead because they were worried about their Grade 12 pass rate .

As The Mercury reported on Monday, the Basic Education Department has decided that from this year onwards, all Grade 12 pupils would write two maths papers that would include questions on Euclidean geometry and probability, which were previously only tested in the optional maths paper three.

Geometry helps pupils to develop deductive reasoning and to understand shapes in space, while probability is a branch of maths that deals with measuring the likelihood that an event will have a particular outcome and is the foundation for statistics.

The change is part of the final stage of the implementation of the new Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement, known as Caps.

Tim Gordon, the head of the Governing Body Foundation, said that making Euclidean geometry and probability compulsory exam topics was imperative, and that while a few maths teachers may be a little out of practice in teaching it, they ought to have the requisite knowledge.

He said that it was a small addition to the syllabus and he was sure it would not be allowed to affect this year’s Grade 12 results.

Matakanye Matakanye, the secretary of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, said that he did not have a problem with curriculum changes which empowered children.

Paul Colditz, the head of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools, said that condensing the maths exam papers was “the logical thing to do”.

“In most schools where maths is taught, the teachers should be competent enough,” Colditz said.

Basic Education Department’s spokesman, Elijah Mhlanga, said on Monday that his department had intended making the two learning areas compulsory back in 2011, but the move was delayed because of the development of a new curriculum.

Mhlanga explained that in structuring the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement, the department had considered input from universities, which argued that first-year students lacked the knowledge tested for in the maths paper three. - The Mercury