The Eskom Development Foundation has provided support and funding to the Free State Mathematics Festival which was held on 10 – 11 October 2018 at the Bon Hotel in Bloemfontein.
The Mathematics competition was created for Grade 8 – 11 learners from schools across the province. Run by the provincial Department of Education in partnership with Kagiso Trust (NGO), the competition saw 15 360 learners from 128 schools participating in the opening round.
Through this competition, the department aims to stimulate interest in Mathematics amongst learners and to show that, contrary to popular belief, the subject is not difficult and can also be fun. Furthermore, it is hoped that it will help them improve their performance in the subject. Only learners performing at 50% and above in the subject were selected to participate.
The competition, which is in its third year, starts at schools before going through three subsequent levels, cluster, district and ultimately, provincial finals. The top performers are selected in each round with eliminations occurring as it progresses.
In the second round (cluster level), the number of participants was whittled down to 3500 learners (from 15 360). The learners were then cut down to 1250 for the third round (district level) and only 300 made it to the fourth and final round (provincial), which was held over the two days.
The competition focuses on conceptual knowledge, the application of knowledge in new situations, problem-solving, reasoning, communication and creative thinking. The questions are based on Grade 8 -11 work and beyond.
The sponsorship by Eskom demonstrates its commitment to bringing about meaningful change and sustainable development in South Africa. Eskom is also involved in other similar initiatives that empower young people such as the Simama Ranta School Entrepreneurship Competition, SciMathsUs and the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists (EEYS).
The winners of each Grade received a range of prizes which included Maths kits for their schools, smart phones, tablets, vouchers, power banks and cash vouchers. The winners were Mikael van Eschwege (Grade 8) from Grey College (Bloemfontein), Willem Botma (Grade 9) from Landboudal High School (Jacobsdal), Tana Lindokuhle (Grade 10) from Thabo Vuyo Secondary School (Rouxville) and Moosa Yaaseen (Grade 11) from Ficksburg High School.
The overall winner of the competition, Willem Christiaan Botma from Landboudal High School in Jacobsdal, took home a smart phone, two tablets, a power bank, a memory stick, an Oxford Maths Dictionary, a R2 000 shopping voucher, Maths kit for his school, a gold medal, a certificate and a floating trophy. He and his teacher were also awarded an all-expenses paid trip to Cape Town where they will also visit Table Mountain and Robben Island.
As part of their prize, the winners will get a chance to participate in the South African Mathematics Olympiad in 2019. The Olympiad’s first round will be in March, followed by the second round in May and the third round in July next year. The winners of the third round will be registered for the International Mathematics Olympiad which will be held at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom in July 2019.
Speaking on the first day of the competition, Eskom Development Foundation CEO Cecil Ramonotsi said competitions like these are great as they empower learners to do better in their studies, particularly in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation.
“Our country has a severe shortage of skilled scientists, engineers and technicians, and this is partly due to the lack of quality maths and science results. This Maths competition is one way of tackling exactly that problem and as Eskom, we are proud to be associated with it.”