Original Research: Mathematics Education

The state of mathematics education in Afrikaans schools.

Gerrit Stols
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 31, No 1 | a336 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v31i1.336 | © 2012 Gerrit Stols | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 April 2012 | Published: 27 November 2012

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Gerrit Stols, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Higher-order thinking skills are essential basic skills for the 21st century as computers can do calculations and algorithms faster and more accurately than people. This means that schools should equip students to think logically, search for patterns, do proofs and solve non-routine problems. These activities are part of higher-order thinking, which is the essence of mathematical thinking and development. South Africa participates in several international comparative studies. Using these comparative studies, it has been possible to determine how the performance of Afrikaans mathematics learners in South Africa compares to that of learners of other countries and also to highlight possible deficiencies in mathematics education. According to the TIMSS 2003 results, Afrikaans learners perform poorly in the TIMSS advanced level questions, where higher-order thinking is required. This means that Afrikaans schools should purposely develop higher-order thinking. The TIMSS 1999 Video Study shows that the best performing countries like Japan spend more time in class on the development of conceptual understanding and working on complex problems. High-performing countries are focused on the development of higher-order thinking through problem solving. They also spend less time on doing routine or repetition exercises which can rather be done by a computer. The contrary is typically the case in Afrikaans schools where a teacher will for example do one or more examples on the blackboard and the students will follow and do a number of similar routine exercises.


wiskundeonderwys; Afrikaanse leerlinge; TIMSS; hoër-orde denke; probleemoplossing


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