Numerical skills open doors to future

Gugu Makhanya

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Thuthuka, an education upliftment initiative of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica), are conducting mathematics and science development camps for previously disadvantaged communities.

The initiative is aimed at providing the pupils with numerical skills so that they can get into the accounting, science, engineering and technology professions.

"The accounting and science, technology and engineering professions rely on mathematics," said Gugu Makhanya, a Saica project director for development.

"Mathematics encourages the development of critical thinking and the analytical skills needed to create a larger pool of business and science leaders in our country."

This joint project between DST and Saica was established in 2005 and is themed Today's Learners, Tomorrow's Leaders.

The development camps take place in six provinces - KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western Cape.

"The project provides pupils with a fun-filled environment that is conducive to learning," said Makhanya.

The science and mathematics camps that run for a week are targeting grade 11 and 12 pupils, especially those in the rural areas.

The development camps are conducted during the school holidays.

Makhanya said that attending the training opened opportunities for those students who are interested in careers such as chartered accounting, science and engineering.

The project also equips the participants with study skills and examination techniques.

Other skills that can be accessed through this project are life skills and coping mechanisms.

Makhanya said she expects the accelerated learning processes to result in a higher number of top students who will achieve grades necessary to study and graduate in Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce degrees majoring in accounting.

She maintains that such efforts would contribute to changing the membership demographics of the accounting and science professions.

"The purpose is to ensure that such membership reflects the country's population demographics, not simply in terms of numbers, but also in terms of business and science leaders," said Makhanya.

The DST has budgeted R25million over five years for the project. Makhanya said 1300 students benefited from the initiative last year. This year the project aims to reach more than 1600 pupils in six provinces.

For more information contact South African Institute of Chartered Accountants at this telephone number: 011-621-6616.