Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More math students taking higher level exams

REMARKABLE in this year’s Independent Examination Board (IEB) matric results is the growth of the numbers of candidates who wrote two mathematics exams that neither examine official matric work nor are required for entry into university.

Mathematics paper three and Advanced Programme Mathematics (APM) gave those who passed them an edge at university, IEB CEO Anne Oberholzer said yesterday.

Higher Education SA CEO Duma Malaza agreed, saying both subjects were "useful preparation" for university-level study and therefore "quite important".

The IEB results were released this morning , showing that 98,38% of this year’s 8285 IEB exam writers passed, 81,53% well enough to study at university.

A total of 641533 candidates wrote the state-set matric exams. Their results are to be released by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday . Last year 60,7% of those who wrote the state-set matric exams passed, 19,8% well enough to study towards a university degree.

There was a 68,5% increase in candidates writing the IEB’s maths exam paper three, from 1414 candidates in 2008 to 2383 last year; and 40% growth over the same period in the numbers writing APM, which is likened to the UK’s A-level in maths.

Ms Oberholzer said despite neither subject being a prerequisite for maths-rich university programmes, there was a realisation that having a good maths base was useful in university . "Without a good maths base you can be in trouble, and it is easier to prepare for maths at school because it is a more nurturing environment."

While the girls at Johannesburg’s St Mary’s School, Waverley, were encouraged to study the curriculum for maths paper three, there was no need to encourage those who took APM, headmistress Deanne King said.

"Those girls who do AP maths just enjoy it. They are really good mathematicians ," she said.

Maths paper three was taught to all the matrics who had chosen to study maths instead of maths literacy at Johannesburg’s St Stithians Boys’ College, deputy headmaster Peter Wright said.

This was because the knowledge imparted was "very useful", and the boys had the option of not writing the final paper three exam, he said.

While the state sets its own maths paper three, the IEB sets the APM exam for both, and there was a "50-50 split" between the two in terms of numbers of matric candidates who wrote the subject, Ms Oberholzer said.

This year the IEB would pilot an advanced programme in English that would be fully implemented next year , she said.

While there was discussion on whether eventually to offer an advanced programme in physics and chemistry, a final decision on this would be taken later and there were no plans to offer advanced programmes in all matric subjects, Ms Oberholzer said.