n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Addressing the gap in South African high school mathematics

Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



The problem of low performance in mathematics by youths in high schools limits their future participation in professions deemed to be essential for the country's economic development, such as those in engineering. This problem has been regarded as a legacy of apartheid education policy which excluded the majority of black youths from mathematics education in South Africa. Taking cognisance of this view, the 1995 White Paper on Education and Training promulgated a redressing of this problem through various mathematics interventions. However, low achievement in mathematics by black youths graduating from high schools has persisted in spite of these interventions. This article argues for the incorporation of positive characteristics inherent to these youths as a result of their developmental stage, such as enhanced cognitive development, identity formation and the positive coping styles of South African adolescents. As mathematics learning relies largely on cognitive activities, this article concludes that this might have been the gap/missing link that needed to be addressed in mathematics interventions over the past decade. It proposes the infusion of adolescent characteristics which have the potential of enhancing mathematics learning among the youth and this is viewed as the gap/missing link in mathematics interventions.

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