Geexpo 2016: Turning the tide on poor maths and science performance

Annette Willemse -- Tue, 05/17/2016 - 15:02

Geexpo 2016: Turning the tide on poor maths and science performance

A lot can be said for South Africa’s prevailing deficiencies in basic mathematics and science education. In fact, experts are of the opinion that these deficiencies have become a key constraint in ensuring that the country’s human capital is fully aligned to the country’s economic growth and development goals.

In short: Without mathematics and science scholars, South Africa will continue to struggle to address the ever increasing skills shortage in professional fields such as computer science, information systems and engineering. The Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology on the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal) is working hard towards finding solutions for this challenge. One such an intervention is the annual GeeXpo initiative which is set to take place on 15 October 2016.

By means of the annual GeeXpo event hundreds of learners from across central South Africa are exposed to a multitude of opportunities that are associated with mathematics and information science – not only as a potential field of study, but also as an exciting and innovative career choice.

According to Ms Daleen Gerber, Director of the School of Information Technology – within the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology, there is a growing appreciation that more students need to be involved in mathematics and sciences to meet the economy’s skills demand and to offer learners a broader scope of career options.  Gerber acknowledges that it is simply not enough to boost learners to pass mathematics or science, but to help them gain access to further education opportunities.

“Learner confidence is still at a low because they are afraid of mathematics and science since they believe these subjects will cause them to fail and henceforth they choose mathematical literacy,” explains Gerber.  “Through initiatives such as the annual Geexpo event we attempt to motivate learners and excite them about the possibilities that awaits them with mathematics and science as part of their curricula. As an institution of higher learning we are furthermore helping to build a culture – not only in schools, but also in society as a whole, that truly values mathematics and science as the main building blocks of any personal and societal progress and prosperity.”

GeeXpo 2016

Apart from introducing learners to the diverse scope of career opportunities and practical applications associated with mathematics and information sciences, participants also stand the chance of winning study bursaries towards a degree in mathematics and information technology on the Campus.

During GeeXpo 2016, the following activities will take place:

PAT Competition
The annual PAT Competition runs parallel with the curriculum outcomes for learners in high school (Grade 10-12), with IT as a subject at school. The aim of the competition is to encourage learners to enter their IT PAT projects and by doing so not only monitor the standard of their projects against those of their peers, but also entice talented learners to consider a career in information technology.

Mathematics Olympiad

The Mathematics Olympiad will see learners participate in two categories, namely Grade 8-9 and Grade 10-12, and participants will be tested on an array of mathematical applications.

Other activities

During the course of the event learners will have the opportunity to meet experts within the field of mobile technology, application (app) and gaming developers as well as the team of the Serious Games Institute – South Africa (SGI-SA). The latter represents a dynamic unit within the School of Information Technology that enjoys international acclaim for their work on serious games such as the Mandela27 Project in conjunction with the European Union (www.mandela27.com).

Schools are invited to register as many learners for Geexpo as they see fit. For more information please send an e-mail to jt.terblanche@nwu.ac.za