Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has highlighted the importance of maths literacy among school children, especially under the current economic climate.
“I think that we understand that the complexities in the economy will require higher mathematical skills,” Manuel said on Monday at the launch of the Census@School project at the Pro Arte Alphen Park High School in Pretoria.
The objective of the project, which targets learners between grades 3 and 12, is to enhance the statistical and numerical literacy of learners as well as raise awareness of the national population census.
The project will also teach pupils how to gather information about themselves. They will have to fill in a questionnaire as part of a schools census, answering questions about their shoe size, height and favourite sport and subject.
The census will be conducted on a sample of 10% of South African schools between April 14 and 24, and the data will thereafter be evaluated.
By 28 April, information relating to three areas – namely personal, household and school information – will be collected from the various selected schools. A preliminary report is expected by the end of July.
Manuel said it was important for learners to be involved in the project because the outcomes of the questionnaires would help the government take certain decisions.
While mathematics was a “tough” subject to learn and teach, he said it was an important proficiency to have. “So much of what we do in life needs some unit of measurement,” he told learners.
Responding to a question from a learner about how well he had done in mathematics at school, Manuel said he had battled and did not have high marks until he came across a teacher who helped him.
The Census@School project, first launched in 2001, was initiated by Statistics SA in collaboration with the Department of Education after a similar initiative in the United Kingdom.