Old Mutual Limited has partnered with the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) as headline sponsor for the South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO), a national competition for Grade 8 – 12 learners.
Entries for the Olympiad are now open and will close on 31 January 2020. Secondary schools are encouraged to enter their learners for the three-round competition aimed at improving learners’ mathematical competencies. The First Round of the SAMO will take place on the 12th of March at participating schools. The SAMO goes beyond the school curriculum by exposing learners to non-routine mathematical problems that will test and improve their logical and analytical thinking skills.
The Olympiad, which is also co-sponsored by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), attracts approximately 100 000 participants annually. Quintile 1 and 2 (no fee paying) schools can enter up to 100 learners free of charge. The First Round papers consists of 20 multiple-choice questions and learners have one hour to complete the paper. There is a junior division with separate papers for grades 8 and 9 and a senior division with one paper for grades 10 to 12.
When compared to other nations, South African rates poorly in mathematical teaching and learning, and this is attributed to several reasons among which is the lack of suitably qualified teachers in certain schools. The world has become heavily reliant on technology and this will most likely influence how companies select prospective employees – student with higher mathematical aptitude will stand a better chance stepping into the job market.
Old Mutual’s sponsorship will act as a platform for SAMF to conduct much-needed teacher development in partnership with African Institute for Mathematical Sciences. This will support the development of critical skills which the country desperately needs to achieve its socio-economic goals.
“South Africa is not producing enough learners with acceptable levels of mathematical proficiency and, if the situation is left to persist it will have a negative impact on South Africa’s competitiveness. With this partnership, we are pledging our support for improved mathematics education across the country and hope to play an active role in grooming the next generation of economists, actuaries, data scientists, statisticians and engineers, to name a just a few. These are all critical professions, not only for Old Mutual, but the continent at large,” says Celiwe Ross, Human Capital Director at Old Mutual.
Professor Kerstin Jordaan, Executive Director at SAMF, is thrilled about the new partnership with Old Mutual. “The programmes we run at the SAMF are so much more than competitions with top achievers. It stimulates interest in the subject and identifies and develops mathematical potential. It makes a difference in the lives of people living in the real world. However, to make a difference in the lives of others, we need partners on both sides of the equation. We therefore value the partnership with Old Mutual and SAICA to achieve our goal to improve the quality of mathematics education,” explained Professor Jordaan.