Home language key to maths and science success


Home language key to maths and science success

DAVE CHAMBERS | 2017-03-27 07:08:10.0

Maths and science at school.

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It’s easy to point the finger at schools for shortcomings in maths and science teaching. But two studies show that what happens at home is just as important.

Unisa education experts who analysed questionnaires filled in by 380 Grade 9 pupils found that “family experiences correlated significantly” with success in science classes.

Human Sciences Research Council researchers also found that one of the keys to success among almost 12000 Grade 9 science students was speaking at home the language in which they were taught and tested.

Writing in the SA Journal of Education, both researchers highlighted high school pupils’ “dismal performance” in maths and science.

The Unisa team – Salomé Schulze and Eleanor Lemmer – said: “Parents who express an interest in the child’s further education entertain high expectations for the child’s future and encourage engagement in learning new things, boosting the child’s feeling of being able to engage in ‘difficult’ subjects like science.”

They also found “being supported by parents who have valued careers promotes high achievement among learners”.

South Africa’s grade 9s performed poorly in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study , placing among the bottom five of the 63 participating countries in 2011, even though most international participants were Grade 8s.

Unisa’s Andrea Juan and Mariette Visser mentioned the language barrier .

“Only 26% in the 2011 study spoke at home the language of the test.”

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