NWU proactively addresses SA’s skills deficit

Belinda Bantham -- Thu, 09/21/2017 - 08:52

NWU proactively addresses SA’s skills deficit

Is mathematics keeping you up at night? Are you worried that your mathematics results are going to prevent you from realising your dream to study further after completing your school career? If so, the Bridging The Mathematical Gap (BTMG) learning programme is just for you.

Since the inception of this learning programme four years ago by the North-West University’s (NWU’s) campus in Vanderbijlpark, many learners have not only overcome their anxiety towards mathematics, but are also flourishing as students pursuing their university studies within the BCom and BSc fields.

Participating learners went from obtaining dismal marks for mathematics in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination to enrolling and successfully completing their degree studies in economics, business informatics, accounting and information technology.

“The BTMG programme aims to assist grade 12 learners to improve their performance in mathematics and by doing so allow them access to degree programmes that requires a sound mathematical basis, such as BCom and BSc IT,” explains Daleen Gerber, director for the School of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics and BTMG programme leader.

The syllabus of the programme covers not only basic mathematical concepts which are taught from grade 8 onwards, but also the application of these concepts in accordance with the outcomes specified in the grade 12 curriculum. In short: an intensified focus on the entire mathematical spectrum that will serve as pre-knowledge for the mathematics modules in the BCom and BSc curriculums respectively.

The programme – that can accommodate 50 learners – starts on 6 January 2018 and will draw to a close on 20 January 2018. During this time participants will receive intensive coaching, both in group settings and on an individual base, and write various class tests as well as two exam papers to ascertain their level of insight. “The programme sets a minimum required pass rate of 50% for all participants, and I am pleased to say that thus far the programme has maintained a pass rate of 80% and above,” says Daleen.

Success all the way

The biggest success of the programme is that it builds a bridge between the abstract nature of mathematics and the practical application thereof. In the instance of a degree programme such as BSc IT, mathematics represents the basis upon which all natural sciences subjects are founded, whereas in BCom programmes, mathematics is used, for example, to calculate logarithms and exponential functions.

Daleen emphasises the importance of an initiative such as the BTMG and says that by empowering learners to be mathematically competent and efficient, the NWU is proactively addressing the dire skills need experienced in the country. “Mathematics is one of those subjects – along with science – that is very important to the economy and the further development of our country,” she explains and adds that school learners who want to further their studies or want to work in sectors like engineering, natural sciences, information technology and medicine have to pass mathematics, science or both if they are to qualify for further studies in these fields. “Our economy needs doctors, engineers, architects, actuaries and information technology specialists, and I believe that as a university we are heeding the call to address the skills deficit.”

* The programme is only applicable to students who want to further their studies at the NWU’s campus in Vanderbijlpark and who has pure mathematics as a subject.

Daleen Gerber is the director for the School of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics and the Bridging The Mathematical Gap (BTMG) programme leader.