As many as 327 South African schools are not offering mathematics at a Grade 12 level this year.
This is according to the Democratic Alliance (DA), following a reply to a parliamentary question detailing the current state of mathematics study in South African schools.
The political party said that the numbers contradict the statement made by president Zuma in his reply to the debate on the State of the Nation Address in June 2014.
“The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has identified just under 100 schools that do not offer mathematics in Grade 12, and we are working with provinces to ensure that all schools offer Mathematics as a subject,” president Zuma said.
“All posts for mathematics, science and accounting teachers and subject advisers will be filled as a matter of urgency in all provinces.”
Annette Lovemore, DA shadow minister of basic education said that she received a reply from Angie Motshekga, minister of basic education, on the full detail of schools not offering mathematics and of the extent of vacant mathematics teachers’ posts.
“327 schools are not offering Mathematics at a Grade 12 level this year. This is very far from ‘just under 100’ schools referred to by the President,” Lovemore said.
In the Eastern Cape and Limpopo the number of schools not offering Mathematics has grown substantially over the last three years, the shadow minister said.
In 2012, 41 schools in the Eastern Cape did not offer mathematics; by 2014, the number had increased to 71. In Limpopo the number has increased from 74 in 2012 to 86 in 2014.
When asked for the dominant reasons for maths not being offered, Motshekga said: “The DBE cannot indicate precisely the reasons for this circumstance. This matter will be investigated and the reasons will be provided when the investigation is complete.”
“This is incredible, after a Ministerial investigation into the teaching of Maths, Science and Technology was completed last year. What exactly was learnt?” Lovemore said.
When asked by the DA, for the number of FET phase (Grades 10 to 12) mathematics teachers per education district, the minister said: “The information on FET band Mathematics teachers employed in each district is currently not readily available. This information is not routinely collected…”
Lovermore said that the minister provided the number of Grade 12 learners enrolled to study Mathematics in each district.
She also provided her targets for this and the next five years, per province. Adding the figures per district produces a total of 239,780 learners currently taking Grade 12 Maths, the DA said.
However, the party noted that the minister then states that she has developed a five year plan, and indicates the target for Grade 12 learners in 2015 as 198,000, and 234,000 in 2017 – 5,780 fewer than this year’s enrollment.