oa The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - The rationale for teaching Quantitative Literacy in 21st century South Africa : a case for the renaming of Mathematical Literacy

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1818-9687
  • E-ISSN: 2519-5670



In 2014 Umalusi (Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training) proposed research into Mathematical Literacy to determine whether the content and skills in Mathematical Literacy compare with the problem-solving skills considered necessary to be quantitatively literate by world standards. The team of researchers transformed this question into three questions.

  1. What is Quantitative Literacy? What are its main characteristics (i.t.o. knowledge, skills and attitudes)?
  2. Does Mathematical Literacy cover the skills considered to be necessary to be quantitatively literate by world standards?
  3. To what extent does the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for Mathematical Literacy encompass the skills and knowledge required for arithmetical / mathematical / quantitative problem solving with respect to content, depth and breadth?
The paper answers these three questions in depth using an extensive literature survey of writing about Quantitative Literacy as it is described internationally. The mathematical content and skills of Mathematical Literacy are compared to the internationally equivalent subjects, both in breadth and depth. A reflection follows on the effectiveness of these skills to equip students to solve real-life quantitative problems in the 21st century as well as to be a reliable admission requirement for non-Science university studies. Finally the paper provides a strong motivation for a name change for this subject in South Africa.

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