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Media Release

6 July, 2007

Maths whizz kids head for Hong Kong

Premier Ebrahim Rasool and Education MEC Cameron Dugmore today (Friday, 6 July 2007) congratulated four of the Western Cape's top Grade 7 mathematics pupils who will be flying to Hong Kong next week to compete in the Po Leung Kuk 11th Primary Mathematics World Contest (PMWC).

Premier Rasool hosted the learners, their parents and competition organisers at his official residence, Leeuwenhof, to celebrate their achievements and wish them well for the mathematics contest in Hong Kong.

The Premier stressed that mathematics and science were priorities for the Western Cape, especially given the nature of the province's economy, and urged all learners to excel in those subjects.

"Both Minister Dugmore and I want to inculcate a culture of maths and get children over the hurdle that maths is hard, that maths isn't fun, that it's a necessary evil," said Premier Rasool.

"This is a marvellous achievement on the part of these learners and we are happy to be able to showcase those who don't only excel in mathematics, but also enjoy it."

Rasool urged the competition organisers to work with the Education Department to broaden access to the contest, saying such incentives would motivate learners to excel in mathematics.

The Premier also urged the corporate sector to assist government in creating a new culture of studying maths and science.

"We know that Aids, cancer, rugby and cricket are sexy things to sponsor but, whilst those are important issues, it is equally important to show support for the future of our country," he said.

"The corporate world should consider sponsoring the teaching and learning of maths because that is the direction which our economy is taking and we are going to need a new generation of mathematics and science-literate kids."

Wishing the four learners well in Hong Kong, Rasool said: "Fly our flag high, we are proud of your achievements, do your best in the competition and enjoy the trip."

ameron Dugmore, MEC for Education in the Western Cape, also congratulated the team and thanked their parents for their support.

Dugmore said the competition made it possible to showcase the skills of young mathematicians and invited the organisers to work with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to attract more entrants. "Studies of performance of Grade 3 and 6 learners in literacy and numeracy have shown that literacy skills have improved significantly in the Western Cape, but numeracy remains a huge challenge. We have to connect schools and build a maths culture," said MEC Dugmore.

"Mathematics is now a compulsory subject. We have to ensure that more learners opt for Mathematics rather than Mathematical Literacy for matric.

"The government now recognises maths teaching as a scarce skill and is providing funding to retain good maths teachers and to attract young people into the profession as maths teachers," he said.

MEC Dugmore expressed the hope that at least two of the team members would become maths teachers when they leave school.

The organisers of the PMWC extended an invitation to Grade 7 pupils in the Western Cape to participate in the competition and approximately 100 pupils from 75 schools wrote the preliminary examination. The top 28 qualified to write the second exam and 10 of these qualified to write the third exam. The top four were then chosen to represent the Western Cape at the PMWC. The fifth pupil is a travelling reserve.

The four pupils are Aidan Horn(Rondebosch Boys' Junior), Paige Romburgh(Elkanah House), Khadija Brey(Wynberg Girls' Junior) and Ethan Grey(Western Province Preparatory Schools); the reserve, Timothy Meier, is from Grove Primary School.

The competition will be held in Hong Kong from 14 to 18 July 2007. On 16 July a one and a half hour individual paper will be written in the morning and a one hour team paper in the afternoon. The use of calculators and mathematics papers are prohibited. In 2006, 56 cities were represented in Hong Kong at the PMWC.

Enquiries: Shado Twala, Premier's spokesperson, 083 640 6771.

Issued by:
Jeremy Michaels
Director: Media Relations
Office of the Premier
Provincial Government of the Western Cape
Tel: 021 483 9955
Fax: 021 483 7196

Visit our website: www.capegateway.gov.za

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