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Support Maths learners to help combat rising unemployment

As the school year ends and matriculants anxiously wait for results, news from Statistics South Africa  that unemployment has increased from 30,1% to 34.9% in the past two years must be very worrying. 

Maths is one of the most fundamental school subjects, and an increasingly in demand top result in grade 10. Success in maths has never been more important than it is now. And, with new jobs in the robotic and coding fields requiring strong maths skills, one of Grabouw’s largest employers, Two-a-Day, says maths skills are a fundamental requirement. Two-a-Day Group Director, Human Resources, Dimitri Jacobs, says it partnered with Green Shoots, an education-support business that uses on-line platforms parallel to the school curriculum to up-skill children.

Mark Swartz, one of the directors of Green Shoots, says that while maths can sometimes be seen as hard and not always something to enjoy, Green Shoots, based in Strand in the Western Cape, is helping learners to succeed in Maths using devices like cell phones. “We work with over 600 primary schools and the South African Education Department is now running this online maths programme for primary school children that has been shown to help learners love maths, gain in confidence and, essentially, improve their maths marks with practice over time.”

Swartz says that nowadays everything is on-line and so maths should be too. “When we were at school and did maths we did our sums in our books, handed them in and the teachers marked the sums. If we were stuck we put our hand up for help. Now, everything is online, on a cell phone – so why can’t maths be online too? We have taken all the sums that are linked to the South African plan for primary schools’ curriculum and put them online for children in grades three to seven. It’s called Maths Curriculum Online or MCO. Children can login to MCO as they would to Facebook, Instagram or email. They have weekly exercises to complete and do their sums. These online exercises have the same sums they are doing at school. It is as easy as typing the answers to the sums, pressing submit and immediately getting their sums automatically marked. In an instant they will know which sums they got right and the ones they got wrong, plus their score for the exercises. Then they can try again to improve their score which is further encouraged by competitions available to enter,” says Swartz. 

According to Swartz, there are videos online to help if they get stuck. “All you need is a cell phone and a small amount of data or, if they are at school in this area, children can also work with MCO at school. Two-a-Day is partnering with Green Shoots, so that they can support parents, carers even grandparents to support their children, grandchildren or even children within extended families through MCO. There is no cost to the parent or child to register. Carers can login and see how the learner is doing, and can check an online report card at any time,” says Swartz.

Dimitri Jacobs, says that one of the many reasons that Two-a-Day is supporting this programme is that carers and supporters don’t have to have any maths skills themselves. “You don’t have to know anything about maths to be able to support your child and help them to grow in confidence in maths and help them improve,” he says.

Two-a-Day has been sharing messages about this programme via their electronic bulletin system and have made videos showing how easy it is to help learners improve.

Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, the largest exporter of South African apples and pears and wholly owned by the growers of Two-a-Day and also Ceres Fruit Growers, says that a quality education is a real path to lifting people out of poverty and into functional members in the economy. We know that our customers in South Africa and in the 105 countries around the world where our apples and pears are sold care about how we as a business, and how our grower shareholders, show up in supporting communities. This support by Two-a-Day makes a measurable difference and will positively impact people’s lives,” says Tru-Cape Managing Director, Roelf Pienaar.

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