Creating Statistically Literate Teachers
More than 250 teachers graduated from the 2014 Maths4Stats Programme run by the Statistics section of UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.
Maths4Stats is an innovative programme to help primary and high school Mathematics teachers engage with basic statistics concepts as they appear in the data handling component of the school syllabus. The programme is a joint initiative of UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, the Department of Education (DoE) and Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).
The lecture series forms part of ISIBALO, a capacity-building initiative conceived as an International Statistical Institute (ISI) legacy project in 2010. The University provides lecturers, lecture venues and course notes; the DoE selects teachers to participate in the training, and Stats SA provides co-ordination, funding and logistical support.
During the five-week programme, teachers travelled from all over KwaZulu-Natal to attend the lecture series held on Saturday mornings. ‘We had teachers from as far away as Nongoma, Richards Bay and Dundee,’ said Academic Leader for Statistics and originator of the project, Professor Delia North.
Educators who attended all the lectures in the series were awarded a certificate of attendance, while the teachers that achieved over 60% in the assessment test at the conclusion of the series were awarded a certificate of proficiency at the awards ceremony conducted by the Stats SA Provincial Co-ordinator, Mr Lusanda Mkwenkweni, who was in charge of all logistics for the lecture series.
Certificates were presented by representatives from the three participating institutions, including the Dean and Head of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at UKZN, Professor Kesh Govinder; Statistician-General of South Africa and Head of Stats SA, Mr Pali Lehohla, and the Senior General Manager of Curriculum Management and Delivery from the Department of Education, Mr Edward Mosuwe.
In addition, the Deputy Director General of Corporate Services (Stats SA), Mrs Akhtari Henning; the Chief Director of Youth Programmes from the Dept of Public Works, Mrs Miranda Mafafo, and the General Manager of Corporate Affairs (SAS), Mr Murray de Villiers, addressed the teachers during the closing ceremony.
Teachers were united in their praise for the lessons they received from staff in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science. Staff were equally complimentary of ‘their fellow passionate educators’.
‘These are the people who will lay the foundation for statistically literate school leavers,’ said North. ‘The children in their schools are very fortunate to have people like them as their educators.’
Maths4Stats is an on-going annual collaborative project between UKZN, Statistics South Africa and the Department of Education, with strong support from the Institute of Applied Statistics, Casio and SAS Computer Software. Since 2010 about 2 070 teachers have been trained.
Statistician-General Lehohla provided some sobering statistics to back up the urgent need for interventions such as Maths4Stats – he said currently a dismal 14 percent of school learners passed Grade 9 Mathematics.
- Sally Frost