Sustainable Development Report 2010 Sustainable Development Report 2010

Developing young, bright, mathematical minds

The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) is a section 21 company, registered to advance the development and education of mathematics amongst South Africa’s learners and young people through improved quality teaching and public awareness activities. Harmony is a proud supporter of this worthy organisation and has a sponsorship agreement in place to the amount of R2.5 million per annum from 2009 to 2011, to be utilised towards some of SAMF’s teacher and learner development projects.

A number of projects were undertaken during the year under review, including the annual Mathematics Olympiad, the Harmony Teacher Development Programme, and new projects in Harmony’s mining areas, namely Welkom, Theunissen, Evander, Secunda, Carltonville and Soweto.

The South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO) is a national competition aimed at developing mathematical talent and a positive image of mathematics amongst the youth, and in doing so, nurturing mathematics educators. The 2009 Olympiad saw a record number of learners registered for the first round (a total of 60 418 learners from 896 schools), as well as a substantial increase in the number of participating black learners, up from 9 657 in 2007 to 29 789 in 2009.

The Mathematical Talent Search (MTS) is a free correspondence-based problem solving course for high school learners, contributing to the development of their talent. It is open to all, and is free. It allows learners in rural areas to compete for camp invitations or a place in a national team on an equal footing with learners in privileged urban schools. The MTS was expanded by running the competition through the Internet. The interactive website increased motivation and participants can now constantly see updates and get feedback from interactive activities.

The Harmony Teacher Development Programme offers teachers a hands-on approach to teaching by exposing them to a variety of problem solving strategies and techniques. The course is aimed at assisting both teachers and, through their increased confidence, their learners, and is offered free of charge in preparation for the SAMO. During the year under review, a DVD version of both the senior and junior courses was created, enabling teachers who are not close to main course centres to reap the benefits of the course regardless. To date, approximately 681 applications have been received. Furthermore, in recognition of the incredible impact this course has effected, and the many teachers who have benefited from it, a report booklet consisting of the teachers who have completed the course since 2002 (including merit achievers) was published in January 2010.

Two new projects involving 15 schools in the areas in which Harmony has mining operations were also implemented during FY10. While one project, called the Harmony Supplementary Tuition Programme, involves Saturday classes in Mathematics in order to improve learners' content knowledge about curriculum mathematics, the other, called the Harmony Mathematics Olympiad Support Initiative, is aimed at encouraging Olympiad participation and improving performance.

The Pan African Mathematics Olympiad (PAMO) was certainly one of the year’s greatest highlights. An annual event, organised by the African Mathematical Union, PAMO encourages the exchange of information on mathematics curricula and teaching methods across the African continent. Approximately 10 African countries participated in FY10 and teams comprised four members. Harmony funded the South African team's travel expenses to the 20th PAMO held in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, in May 2010 and is immensely pleased to report that Kira Düsterwald, a Grade 11 learner from Springfield Convent School in Cape Town, walked away with a joint first place.

Finally, the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) is an annual mathematics competition for high school students. It has been running since 1959 with the 2010 competition held in Almaty and Astana in Kazakhstan. Teams of six high school students individually write two papers on consecutive days. This year 517 contestants from 97 countries took part. South Africa won two bronze medals and four honourable mentions and was placed 58th in the unofficial team rankings with 68 points. South Africa was also once again the top African country, although the African competition is getting stronger and stronger each year. This year each African country taking part won a medal, with Tunisia and the Ivory Coast each winning a silver medal.

“The work of the South African Mathematics Foundation continues to yield tangible results,” says Jackie Mathebula, Executive: Corporate Affairs at Harmony and a member on the SAMF board, “and Harmony is proud to support the organisation as it goes from strength to strength helping teachers and learners across the country.”