8 Reasons why taking away Maths and Science from our schools is bad…REALLY BAD!

South Africa cannot afford to have its children not learning Maths and Science . Here are eight reasons why declining numbers of Matriculants writing Maths and Science is not good.

James Lees of the Mail & Guardian recently wrote a very troubling piece titled: ‘Youth Lose Out Because Many Schools Don’t Offer Maths and Science.’ A notable takeaway from the article is that in 2021, matriculants in over 1 100 schools around the country did not write a mathematics or a science examination. Here are eight reasons why that has to change:


  1. Maths and Science are important.

“Maths and science aren’t everything” – maybe, but they are a lot. These are arguably among the most important subjects you could ever learn. As a developing country, we can never have too many people skilled in maths and science. They are essential contributors to the development of the country in many industries – medicine, infrastructure development, technology and finance, to name a few.


  1. Numbers are trending in the wrong direction.

Lees notes a growth in no-science schools – from 512 in 2013 to 781 in 2021. Further, six provinces saw an increase in the number of matriculants not writing maths. Expect such numbers to grow if no change is made.


  1. This will lead to a shortage of manpower in the Maths/Science fields…

…including fewer doctors, engineers (electrical, electronic, IT, chemical, civil and so on), scientists, mathematicians – that’s off the top of my head. Plus, we’re bound to have fewer teachers of the subjects related to all of those fields. We could end up being caught in a very vicious cycle.


  1. Other learning areas will be congested, leading to surpluses in the workplace, and growing unemployment.

If students only learn non-science/maths subjects, they will only qualify for work in non-science/maths industries. Although there are many opportunities outside maths and science, they won’t be enough. In an economy where jobs are scarce, driving the youth to a finite number of fields in which to operate will surely condemn many of them to joblessness.


  1. The numbers are indicative of an even bigger problem…

…Poor quality teaching and learning. Lees notes that only 23% of the matriculants who did write mathematics in 2021 recorded marks of 50% and higher. For Science? Only 27%.


More must be done.


  1. We are going to be left behind in the 4th industrial revolution.

We are knee-deep into the world of advanced robotics, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence. Technology is developing by the minute. Our chances of becoming a notable contributor in such development get slimmer with every child that is not learning maths and science.

  1. Countries that have high performance in maths & science tend to do well economically.

Surprise, surprise – the world’s most affluent states lead in maths and science and the innovation stemming from them. According World Population Review, the top 10 countries with the highest number of leading mathematics scientists are headed by the USA and include the UK, Germany, France, Canada, China, Italy, and Switzerland.


Key to modern-day economic development is technology – maths and science are the language of technology.


  1. Repeat reasons 1-7.

             Not joking.


The education department must attend to this issue quickly before it gets even more out of hand. We are a country desperately in need of better strategies to help improve our maths and science numbers (both in quality and quantity). The importance of these learning areas cannot be overstated. #FreedomToLEARN.


Cover image source available here.