NWU Vaal BTMG: an equation that makes sense!
This year marks the fourth rendition of the very successful learning programme: Bridging The Mathematical Gap, as presented by the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology on the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University.
The programme literally takes the sting out of mathematics and offers learners the opportunity to pursue mathematically centred academic programmes within the BCom and BSc fields. During 2016 a total of 47 learners – who did not meet the minimum requirement to study BCom or BSc, enrolled for the programme. After writing 14 class tests (which contributed 10 percent towards their final mark) and two exam papers (of 100 marks each and which contributed equally towards the other 90 percent of the final mark), 40 of these learners passed the programme.
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 IT curriculums respectively.
Improved access addresses national skills deficit
According to Prof Herman van der Merwe, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology, the BTMG programme assists grade 12 learners to improve their performance in mathematics and by doing so allow greater access to degree programmes that requires a sound mathematical basis such as BCom and BSc. “In 2016 the Faculty welcomed 42 BTMG students into the fold of which 39 students enrolled for mathematics modules,” says Prof Van der Merwe. Apart from allowing students access to these degree programmes, the sound mathematical foundation provided by the BTMG programme furthermore ensured that these students successfully passed their semester modules – some even with a distinction.
Professor Van der Merwe stresses the importance of an initiative such as the BTMG and says that by empowering learners to be mathematically competent and efficient, the University is pro-actively addressing the dire skills need of 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,” says Prof Van der Merwe 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. “Mathematics remains the most important criterion for selection for employment. The bottom line is that mathematics is a key to higher education and high paying jobs.”