Ramadimetja Makgeru and nine other young people are implementing a Mathematics project to change attitudes and perceptions of learners towards Mathematics.
The I love Maths- Make it count campaign started after a workshop organised by the Students Development and Leadership Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand.
“The moment they asked us to identify the challenge in our society, I thought of Maths. There are many reasons why learners fail Maths, yet it is a very important subject and many university courses require Maths,” Ramadimetja explained.
Mathematics is among the most failed subjects in South Africa. Earlier this year, the Department of Basic Education said the number of Grade 12 learners who passed Mathematics had dropped from 59.1% in 2013 to 53.5%, with only 3.2% learners achieved distinctions.
The I love Maths- Make it count campaign focuses on ‘under-privileged’ schools, especially those in townships, with the hope that learners will love Maths and make good subject choices when they get to Grade 10.
“I have met a girl who was doing matric and wanted to be an Accountant but not doing Maths, and that hurt me because even if she passed well, there was no way she would be able to study accounting at university the following year,” Ramadimetja said.
Ramadimetja and her colleagues then decided to focus on Grade 8 learners to help them make good subject choices and do Maths without being limited by social constraints. “We only focus on Grade 8 because that is where it all starts and learners are still young and haven’t made subject choices,” she said.
She argued that some learners have every reason not to like Maths because they don’t have resources, “I come from a small village in Limpopo and it was so painful that I didn’t have a calculator in matric. It was so easy for me to give up because I didn’t have resources.”
During August,the team visited Umqhele High School in Thembisa and donated 20 calculators. They received their donation from the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) and Wits students. Ramadimetja said they would love to donate more stationery but funding is a challenge, “It’s very unfortunate that if you want to do something you also need to rely on things like funding.”
Eight of the team members matriculated at Umqhele in the previous years. One of the teachers, Makgabo Pitja said she is happy to see some of her former learners coming back to help, “Maths is not difficult and there is nothing wrong with the curriculum, but I don’t know how we have come to the point where our attitudes and perceptions towards it are so negative. I think we will see the impact if this project continues.”
A Wits Geography honours student, Mafule Moswane who was invited as a guest speaker told learners about the importance of Mathematics, in his speech he said “Sometimes you will have to do what you have to do in order to do what you want to do.”
The team also played mental mathematics games. Some of the learners told him that they have lost hope in Maths and they don’t like it because they struggle to understand it.
However, Mafule said the project is not a waste of time, “It is important to share strategies that learners can use learn Mathematics easily and tell them about the things that you can do with Maths- Maths is one of those subjects that you can use in anything.”
Ramadimetja aspires to be an activator in order to ‘grow as a leader and a change driver’. She is currently involved in different projects. She works for a project where they go to township schools to tutor, motivate and help learners with resources to apply for universities and bursaries. She also uplifts young women both economically and emotionally by equipping them with skills to help them.
“I know Activate! – through Activators, So, I posted on their Facebook group about our campaign and Lenina responded, asking me about the event details. I’m going to an interview with them in September,” she said.
“Community service has always been in me. I don’t really know why and how I started to love helping others, but it’s always been something I love doing. I remember when I was still in primary school I would go to an orphanage called Mohau Centre to help the younger kids with homework, play with them and feed the disabled ones.”
Ramadimetja is a third year Bachelor of Accounting Science student at Wits. She also wants to be psychologist and a social worker. ‘I have a passion for community service and would love to assist me in helping others realize their passions and uplift themselves,’ she said.