by Jody Boshoff

Mathematicians in the making

UCT Maths Competition attracts record entries

Anilisiwe Sotyinway receives UCT trophy on behalf of her school
maths awards 05.jpg

The University of Cape Town (UCT) Mathematics Competition is an annual event for schools in the Western Cape. The competition, which began in 1977, sees high school learners write multiple-choice maths papers as individuals or in pairs, with the goal of attaining top honours in this prestigious contest.

The largest event of its kind in South Africa, this year’s competition attracted 6 700 entrants from 160 Western Cape schools. The 2013 competition gave participants the opportunity to tackle a series of questions designed to test insight, problem-solving and lateral thinking.

“After the competition, we invite high achievers to take part in two more rounds: the UCT Invitational Mathematical Challenge and the UCT Mathematical Olympiad,” said Emeritus Professor John Webb of the UCT Mathematics Department. “Along with weekly enrichment classes, these initiatives aim to develop interest and achievement among those who show promise.”

“The success of this broader programme is shown by the representation of Western Cape pupils in the South African teams chosen nationally for the Pan-African and International Mathematical Olympiads. This year, five out of the seven international representatives are from the Western Cape and, in fact, at least half of the national teams every year are veterans of the UCT Mathematics Competition.”

Aurecon, annual supporter of the competition since 2007, last year requested that its sponsorship be focused on disadvantaged schools. Accordingly, the group’s donation in 2012 was used to cover bus and taxi costs incurred in transporting participants from Khayelitsha, a partially informal township located on the Cape Flats in the Western Cape. At the time, only one school in Khayelitsha was a regular participant in the competition.

In order to encourage more Khayelitsha schools to take part, this year Aurecon’s donation was again used to cover transportation costs to the competition. As a result, 13 Khayelitsha schools took part in the 2013 competition – marking a sizable increase in the number of learners from black schools.

Andries Claassens, human capital business partner at Aurecon who represented the group at the competition’s prize-giving event on 5 June, said: “We believe the UCT Mathematics competition plays a vital role in encouraging interest and aptitude in mathematics in South Africa. As such, we are delighted with the strong participation from black schools and the role Aurecon has played in enabling these learners to participate.”

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