By Matimu Shivambu
Students from schools in Makhanda and nearby communities, including Port Alfred, Bathurst, and Gqeberha, met on 17 February 2023 for the Rhodes University Mathematics Experience (RUME) at the Barratt Lecture Theatre Complex at Rhodes University.
RUME included public, private, and model C schools as participants. Learners in grades 7 through 12 took part in the programme. Each school chose their top five students in mathematics from each grade.
Funding for student transportation was provided to distant schools. The All Saints Education and Development Trust provided this grant. On this day, the RUME celebrated its tenth anniversary. Several academics from the Science Faculty at Rhodes University took part in the spectacular mathematical event.
The Rhodes University Maths Experience, according to the competition organiser, Mr Andrew Stevens, is intended to both entertain and challenge brilliant Grade 7–12 learners. The event was organised in collaboration with Rhodes University and the All Saints Education and Development Trust. The All Saints Education and Development Trust's generous support allowed the competition to occur after a two-year forced hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event began in both main Barratt lecture halls, followed by refreshments and a keynote interactive speech from Andrew Stevens, the man behind the initiative and a former Rhodes University Department of Education staff member. A group of educators and academics from Rhodes University marked the students' scripts, and a prize-giving ceremony followed the marking. The rewards included generous monetary awards and the newest Sharp calculators.
According to Mrs Joyce Sewry, a RUME organiser and senior lecturer in the Chemistry Department at Rhodes University, the competition is a fantastic opportunity to showcase brilliance. Mrs Sewry hailed the occasion as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to open students' eyes and empower them. "This competition inspires pupils to approach mathematics enjoyably and, as such, aims to increase maths and science uptake among high school learners."
The top performers in the competition, according to Mrs Sewry, will gain exposure to mentorship and coaching opportunities as well as other mathematics competitions. The pupils will, most significantly, be guided and prepared for the Mathematics Olympiad competition. They will be invited to join the Siyanqoba project. Mrs Sewry praised Mr Andrew Stevens and said he initiated the competition.
RUME primarily aims to improve the quality of mathematics and education in the nation, according to Mr Stevens, who was the chief coordinator of the event.
He noted that South Africa needs help with both quality and quantity. "Maths equips students with the problem-solving skills that may be applied to solve the many socio-economic problems that beset South Africa," he said.
Mr Stevens believes that the mathematics experience at Rhodes University will help students become more capable of handling challenging situations. He expressed gratitude to the event's sponsors and the pupils who participated.
When asked about the programme, Akhanye Yeye, a Grade 11 student at Ntsika High School, said, "I feel good about the programme. I loved it, and I want to learn how to do Mathematics without a calculator." Akhanye's enthusiasm demonstrates how educational and entertaining the programme was.
The Diocesan School for Girls' Thandolwethu France expressed her joy about participating in the programme and said she believes she will learn from everyone around her.
Nearly every school had a prize winner, but Saint Andrew’s College came out on top for the day. Some of the Saint Andrew’s College learners pupils achieved between 90% to 100% in the competition.
In conclusion, Mr Stevens encouraged all learners to keep an eye out for other mathematics competitions and expressed gratitude to all for participating in the event.
First - Felix Jackson (St Andrews College)
Second - Rafael Carrara (St Andrews College)
Third - Thomas Rivett-Carnac (St Andrews College)
First - Alastair de Kock(St Andrews College)
Second - Zoe van der Walt (The Diocesan School for Girls)
Third - Aimee Newcombe (Kingswood)
First - Max Coventry (St Andrews College)
Second - Lucy Jewell (The Diocesan School for Girls)
Third - Zack Swears (St Andrews College)