About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 202-212
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain

IMPROVING MATHEMATICS LITERACY IN HIGHER EDUCATION - POST APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA – CHALLENGES AND PITFALLS

A. Marais1, F. Abrahams2

1TSiBA Education (SOUTH AFRICA)
2University of the Western Cape (SOUTH AFRICA)
It is 15 years since South Africa became a democracy and the newspapers are still full of articles about the critical skills shortage in South Africa. Today there are 1000’s of job vacancies in the government and hundreds more in the City administrations of South Africa’s economic engines of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town only. Nationally, in hi-tech jobs alone, there were over 30,000 job vacancies listed in September 2008. This despite unemployment levels soaring above 40%.

At the heart of this disparity sits the lingering sting of unequal education under the apartheid regime. In an effort to address these historical problems, the new democratic government introduced outcomes based education in 2006. This was a bold initiative but many believe it did not have the desired effect. High school education today remains unequal and disparate, leaving the majority of school leavers still ill prepared to enter higher education courses that require basic numerical skills and by extension, enter the world of work as productive citizens.

Currently only 1.4% of South Africa’s population is attending universities, technikons or colleges. Nationally, over the last four years on average, only 17% of learners passed Grade 12 at the standard necessary to proceed to university. Of them, only 25% of students from disadvantaged areas eventually complete a degree, and only 11% in the minimum period of 3 years.

TSiBA Education, a privately funded, non-governmental higher education institution, actively recruits and identifies untapped talent within communities that are impoverished, both academically and economically. Students must successfully pass an extensive application process and are then awarded a full tuition scholarship thereby eliminating the financial burden which excludes many learners from studying at a higher education level.

TSiBA’s Bachelor of Business Administration is structured to ensure that additional learner support (academically as well as personally) is fully integrated into the curriculum. Despite this fine grained approach, the pass rate for the basic bridging course in mathematical numeracy remained dismal.

A carefully constructed, multipronged approach was piloted and included a number of techniques and approaches.

At the end of the pilot, the class average improved from 47% to 66% and the pass rate improved from 37% to 83%.
@InProceedings{MARAIS2009IMP,
author = {Marais, A. and Abrahams, F.},
title = {IMPROVING MATHEMATICS LITERACY IN HIGHER EDUCATION - POST APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA – CHALLENGES AND PITFALLS},
series = {2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2009 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-2953-3},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {202-212}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Marais AU - F. Abrahams
TI - IMPROVING MATHEMATICS LITERACY IN HIGHER EDUCATION - POST APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA – CHALLENGES AND PITFALLS
SN - 978-84-613-2953-3/2340-1095
PY - 2009
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2009
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2009 Proceedings
SP - 202
EP - 212
ER -
A. Marais, F. Abrahams (2009) IMPROVING MATHEMATICS LITERACY IN HIGHER EDUCATION - POST APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA – CHALLENGES AND PITFALLS, ICERI2009 Proceedings, pp. 202-212.
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