Awards celebrate excellence in Mathematics, Accounting and Economics. 16 March 2013 Nedbank Essay Awards presentation | Western Cape Education Department

Awards celebrate excellence in Mathematics, Accounting and Economics. 16 March 2013 Nedbank Essay Awards presentation

Speech by Donald Grant, Western Cape Education Minister

Minister Alan Winde and Mrs Grant
Head of Provincial Treasury, Dr Stegmann
Head of the Western Cape Education Department, Ms Vinjevold
Mr Remo Moyo, Mr Graham Auret, Mr Alistair Pearce of Nedbank Corporate
Members of the Nedbank Corporate team
Members of the relevant Steering and Working Committees
Education and Treasury officials
Ladies and Gentleman

I am delighted to be here tonight to recognise and celebrate excellence in Mathematics, Accounting and Economics - three subjects that are key of the the successful expansion of any developing economy.

What makes the Nedbank/Western Cape Government essay writing competition so special is its focus on maths, economics and accounting. My time as Minister of Education has confirmed my belief that these subjects are priority areas for advancing education (and more specifically financial literacy) in this province because of their importance in building the future of this country.

Proficiency, especially in mathematics, also forms the basis of many of our further education and training fields in science, technology, engineering and business - all key sectors for a growing economy such as ours.

Therefore, as a government, we are working hard to encourage our learners to take mathematics and science - gateway subjects for the economic development of our province and of the personal career opportunities of our learners - we have placed a lot of resources in these subject areas.

We are working hard to improve the numeracy skills of all our learners and our interventions are showing signs of success.

For instance, in January we released the provincial testing results for mathematics which indicated that learner performance in mathematics is improving at all three of the levels tested - Grade 3, 6 and 9. While we are making progress in this regard, the levels in mathematics are still not what they should be and we are doing all that we can to sustain and build on the progress made to date.

At the top end of the school system, we saw a number of pleasing improvements in the performance of learners in Mathematics, Accounting and Economics.

The percentage pass rate for Mathematics is continuing to increase year on year.

In 2010 the percentage pass rate for Mathematics in the NSC was 66%. This increased to 68.7% in 2011 and 73.5% in 2012. A record pass rate since the inception of the new NSC.

Similarly, the percentage pass rate for Accounting has increased from 68.3% in 2010 to 73.9% in 2011 and 75.9% in 2012.

Economics, on the other hand, saw a decline in the pass rate from 72.4% in 2011 to 69.4%. However, an analysis of the results indicate that over 750 more learners wrote than in the previous year and over 300 more passed.

We have recently implemented a new Maths and Science Strategy in schools which aims to increase participation rates in Mathematics and Physical Sciences, increase the numbers of those passing these subjects in Grade 12, as well as improve the quality of passes. The strategy also aims to encourage schools to increase the number of Grade 10s taking mathematics and physical science.

We will also continue to pay special attention to the critical Foundation Phase of learning, closely monitoring classroom practice in Grades 1 to 3, with a view to ensuring that the necessary building blocks in mathematics are in place.

It is on this note that I would like to thank Nedbank Corporate and the Western Cape Treasury. By offering competitions such as the one we are celebrating tonight, you are promoting and encouraging maths, accountancy and economics in our schools.

To the learners here tonight - you have proved that you have the ability and skills needed to contribute positively to the growth of our economy and I wish you all the best of luck with the rest of your school career.

Take advantage of what you have achieved and the bursaries on offer to develop your skills further. A world of opportunity awaits you!

Thank you also to our high schools and educators that are represented here tonight. Your commitment and hard work do not go unnoticed and tonight we salute you.

I should also like to acknowledge and salute the parents and guardians of these wonderful learners. Parental involvement in the education of our children is one of the most important elements of any school system. So tonight we thank you for what you are doing to support them.

As we say in this Province - let's make education Better Together.

Thank you.