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Increase Success by Decreasing Admission for Maths– Fairytale or Reality?

Authors: L.A du Plessis


South Africa is facing a crisis with not being able to produce enough graduates in the scarce skills areas to sustain economic growth. The crisis is fuelled by a school system that does not produce enough potential students with Mathematics, Accounting and Science. Since the introduction of the new school curriculum in 2008, there is no longer an option to take pure maths on a standard grade level. Instead, only two mathematical subjects are offered: pure maths (which is on par with higher grade maths) and mathematical literacy. It is compulsory to take one or the other. As a result, lees student finishes Grade 12 with pure mathematics every year. This national problem needs urgent attention if South Africa is to make any headway in critical skills development as mathematics is a gateway to scarce skills professions. Higher education institutions initiated several initiatives in an attempt to address the above, including preparatory courses, bridging programmes and extended curricula with foundation provisions. In view of the above, and government policy directives to broaden access in the scarce skills areas to increase student throughput, foundation provision was introduced for Commerce and Information Technology programmes at the Vaal Triangle Campus (VTC) of North-West University (NWU) in 2010. Students enrolling for extended programmes do not comply with the minimum prerequisites for the normal programmes. The question then arises as to whether these programmes have the intended impact? This paper reports the results of a two year longitudinal study, tracking the first year academic achievement of the two cohorts of enrolments since 2010. The results provide valuable insight into the structuring of an extended programme and its potential impact.

Keywords: Mathematics, Access, extended programmes, foundation provision

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