More focus needs to be put on the country’s foundation phase mathematics. This was the message from the speakers at the opening of the 24th annual Amesa (The Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa) national congress, which is currently being held at the University of the Free State, until Friday, 29 June 2018.
Amesa president, Vasuthanvan Govender, took the time to appreciate the historical significance of the moment, as the first ever inaugural meeting was held in Bloemfontein at the University of the Free State in 1993. Govender wished the educators a good week filled with sharing of ideas and innovations in teaching mathematics, and hoping that when they leave, they will have better confidence in their teaching of the subject.
FS Education Department’s Superintendent-General, Tiisetso Malakoane, touched on the importance of mathematics in our everyday lives and how we take it for granted. “The nation places a high premium on who is number one. I think inversely we are actually committing paradoxical genocide. Because in a quest to be number one, we throw everything at Grade 12. We need to make sure that we take care of each and every grade, starting from Grade R,” said Malakoane.
Teachers attending the conference could not agree more. Foundation phase teacher, Jonase Zume from Letotolo Primary school in Qwaqwa, is attending Amesa for the first time. “I want to learn new ways of teaching maths because we will be meeting with professors who can teach us how to tackle maths problems we find in our classrooms, especially from younger children at our schools.”
Another first time attendee is Thato Seekoei, a Grade 3 teacher from Tsholohelo Primary School in Mangaung. “I thought it would be beneficial in developing me and teaching me new skills that I can pass on to my learners.”
Tia Steyn, a Grade R teacher from Rutanang Primary School in Rustenburg, North West, has been teaching maths for about 17 years, and has been to the Amesa congresses a few times now. “I think Grade R is the grade that is the most left behind in all these kinds of maths weeks and so on. I wish they would give us more support in teaching maths in Grade R, because you get from grade one and upwards but Grade R is neglected. And I believe it’s the most important grade in the foundation phase.”
Steyn was accompanied by their school principal, Alinda Smith, who was attending on behalf of all grades. “I want to see what the newest technologies available are, I hope they are going back to basics and I want to see the best resources available that I can take with for my teachers and our school.”