NESTLÉ NESPRAY brought together stakeholders in education and nutrition sectors both private and public in a panel discussion to discuss solutions aimed at boosting learner’s mathematics performance of primary school learners in the intermediate phase in South Africa. At the event they launched the NESTLÉ NESPRAY South African Mathematics Challenge, an annual competition for primary school learners organised by the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF).  

The NESTLÉ NESPRAY South African Mathematics Challenge aims to empower learners to become independent, creative and critical thinkers who will be able to interpret and critically analyse everyday situations that will allow them to solve problems. It promotes teamwork, enthusiasm and helps to develop future leaders and influencers in science, engineering, and marketing sciences across all walks of life. By building an enticing platform for both parents and children, the objective of the NESTLÉ NESPRAY South African Mathematics Challenge is to support teachers and learners in making mathematics attractive and bringing it to the forefront as a subject needed to build a brighter future in South Africa.

The panel discussion included; PhD in Mathematics honouree and Lecturer Dr Dephney Mathebula, Dep. of Basic Education Chief Education Specialist Ms Sindiswa Mcosana, Vice Chairperson of The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), Professor Seithuti Moshokoa, Professor Lucia Meko, lecturer at University of Free State and registered dietician with the HPCSA, and Adedoja Ekeruche, Business Executive Officer, Dairy Nestlé South Africa.  Also included was Kgaogelo Bopape, a Grade 11 Learner and Pan African Mathematics Olympiad gold medal recipient, who is also representing South Africa at the 2019 International Mathematical Olympiad.

The panel discussed how to promote a broader perspective on the nature of mathematical activity, including that mathematical activity is more than calculation; it can also be helpful in critical-thinking skills outside the classroom.

The panelists emphasized the importance of reading in mathematical activity and the importance of developing and disseminating materials that contribute to meaningful mathematical activity in classrooms. The importance of nutrition in the early phases of education was also highlighted.

“We believe that Mathematics is a necessary enabler in the development of conceptual understanding, problem-solving skills, reasoning skills and the ability to apply knowledge in new situations. With decades of expertise in nutrition, NESTLÉ NESPRAY plays a supportive role in cognitive development and overall growth of our children. Together with our partner, the South African Mathematics Foundation; and our stakeholders, we are helping to address the critical situation of mathematics performance of our young children. By amplifying the platform, we aim to make mathematics attractive and to make a difference by giving our children the support and opportunity they need to multiply their potential,” commented Ekeruche.

The South African Mathematics Challenge (SAMC) organised by SAMF in collaboration with the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) has been growing from the inception year of 1977 to the current size of approximately 80 000 to 100 000 learners from more than 1 000 schools countrywide participating annually. The SAMC is a national competition for Grades 4-7 learners and is endorsed by the Department of Basic Education.

“As a result of the new sponsorship from Nestlé through the NESTLÉ NESPRAY brand, the administration of the SAMC will be much easier. An exciting new aspect of the SAMC is the learner and teacher workshops that will take place in all 9 provinces. The Primary Teacher Development Course was developed to assist teachers to prepare learners for the SAMC. In addition, the sponsorship by NESTLÉ NESPRAY has made the addition of a third round possible that now allows the NESTLÉ NESPRAY South African Mathematics Challenge to achieve the objectives of popularising mathematics and encouraging mass participation in Round 1. We will also award the achievement of many learners with Certificates of Achievement in Round 2, and identifying, supporting and developing exceptional talent in Round 3 where the students will have the opportunity to be crowned the #1 National NESTLÉ NESPRAY Mathematics Champion at the NESTLÉ NESPRAY Smart Camp,” said Professor Kerstin Jordaan, Executive Director of SAMF.

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