March 21, 2024

Recap Day 4 Morning Session

Day four of the Siyakhula Festival commenced with thought-provoking sessions that delved into the transformative power of mathematics in shaping futures, identities, and bridging diverse spaces. The day was rich with discussions on educational strategies, social justice, and the collective mission to inspire the next generation of mathematical scientists.

Dr Sinobia Kenny, Manager of the AIMS School Enrichment Centre, opened the day with her session, “Charting Frontiers: Shaping Identities, Bridging Spaces, and Inspiring Futures in Mathematical Sciences.” Her presentation underscored the critical role of mathematics in forming identities and connecting different spheres within academia and the broader community. She addressed the daily struggles faced by students and teachers in township schools, setting an inspiring tone for the day. Sibulele Magini, Head of Molo Mhlaba Schools, shared the inspirational principles guiding their institutions. Two learners from Masibambane High School, who had participated in the Turtlestitch workshop delivered their own heartfelt speech, drawing an emotional response from the attendees. The highlight was the performance by girls from Molo Mhlaba School, presenting a decolonised version of the South African national anthem and a traditional political song, leaving a lasting impression. 

The keynote address by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, from Stellenbosch University, titled: “A Fraction is a Fraction! Mathematics, Democracy, and Social Justice,”, explored the intersection of mathematics education with democracy and social justice. Prof. Jansen advocated for equitable and inclusive mathematics education that empowers every student.

The morning continued with a vital stakeholders’ and supporters’ presentation and panel discussion on “The Future of Mathematical Sciences in South Africa,” moderated by Dr Thandi Mgwebi from the NRF and AIMS Council Member. Esteemed panellists, including Prof. Kerstin Jordaan, Prof. Zurab Janelidze, Prof. Loyiso Nongxa, Ms. Mmampei Chaba, and Prof. Francesco Petruccione, shared insights into enhancing mathematics education and research in South Africa.

The panel tackled significant issues, from nurturing top talent through the Maths Olympiad to connecting school mathematics with higher education. Discussions also covered the challenges in higher education, capacity building across Africa, and the need for advanced mathematical sciences education.

Through these morning sessions, day four of the Siyakhula Festival underscored the pivotal role of mathematics in societal development, the importance of addressing educational challenges, and the collective effort needed to inspire future generations in the mathematical sciences.

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