Nov 09, 2012
Introducing learners to chess at an early age will help boost matric resultsBack
Cape Town|Gold|Port|Pretoria|Africa|Business|Components|Design|Education|GE|Industrial|PROJECT|Training|YouTube|Africa|South Africa|Richards Bay|Angie Motshekga|Garry Kasparov|Jacob Zuma|Kgalema Motlanthe|Olga
To drive our industrial economy, the nation needs people who can actually ‘do’ things; we need people who can think, people who can analyse and come to conclusions.
When some company employs an individual, that company will be investing in what that individual will do for the company in the future – it will not simply be buying what the person knows.
A person who is a walking encyclopaedia but cannot put any of that information to good use is not of much use to the company. It is output that makes money. At times, the public asks why the matric pass rate is not higher. Teachers tell me that, frequently, they can see, in the first couple of weeks of the school year, which learners in the class will not pass. It is rather immoral to allow a person to study all year, knowing that he or she is virtually certain to fail. But what can a teacher do? The substandard learners should not have been promoted into matric, in the first place. In fact, in many cases, the learners should not have been promoted from Grade 8 or even from Grade 6. Whose fault this may be is not the issue – the issue is what should be done about this now.
A major problem with many learners, of all social backgrounds, is that they have poor problem-solving abilities. Therefore, when they confront maths or science, it is like a brick wall to them – they do not know where to begin.
Problem-solving training should start at an early age; preschool, in fact. Some children are lucky enough to have parents who have hobbies or interests that address these issues. The children then ‘look and learn’ and so acquire problem-solving skills.
Problem solving is actually a process whereby the brain attempts different solution paths until one is found that fits the conditions presented. I teach MBA part time and, believe me, there are students in a first-year MBA class who battle to problem-solve issues. It has been found internationally that an excellent way of addressing problem solving in children is to teach them to play chess.
Two years ago, a chess trust was established in Pretoria to bring chess to children across the country. The programme is called Moves for Life (MFL), and I am one of the MFL trustees. The project has spread steadily and we are now proud of the fact that 20 000 children attend our weekly chess classes. We have trained over 300 teachers, and now have chess in schools from Richards Bay to Nkandla, Cape Town, Pretoria, Midrand, Hotazel, Balfour and more. This programme comprises components that address the needs of children, covering the entire spectrum from preschool to matric.
Chess is also a registered approved sport in schools, and this gives us easy access to schools across the country. President Jacob Zuma, who is a keen chess player himself, is our patron. We have also received sup- port and encouragement from Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Both the President and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe have asked MFL to roll out our chess programme into all areas where this is possible. International chess star, grandmaster Garry Kasparov, also joined up with us and we brought him to South Africa to see for himself what we are doing. We will be bringing him back again in the near future.
The MFL school programme starts with learners in Grade 1. They really enjoy the game and have great fun – they have no idea that they are also learning the basics of maths and science as they play. It is quite amazing to see the enthusiasm of the Grade 1 learners and, for that matter, even preschoolers at places such as the small Mvelaphanda preschool, in Tembisa, run by the enthusiastic founder, Olga. Our project in this school is featured on YouTube . . . look it up!
Measurements in some of our classes, which have run for a couple of years, have shown a 30% improvement in school performance in children who undergo our chess programme. Chess requires a player to think out a number of potential moves and to think out possible moves that the opponent may make in response, and then to think out ‘plan B’ in the event that ‘plan A’ is blocked by the opponent’s moves. It is these same brain pathways that are used to tackle a maths problem.
Chess is an inexpensive way of tackling the maths and science problem, and also has the advantage of a short implementation time. In essence, the MFL programme is complete in its design and has already been tested for some years on a limited scale. It has produced positive results. Implementation requires enthusiastic and dedicated people, but one should not be so naïve as to assume that it does not need some money too. We are dependent on financial donations to be able to operate in various places and are grateful to our donors, which include BHP Billiton, GE, Great Basin Gold, iwyze, Bright Edge and Spoor & Fisher, besides others.
We are grateful to our sponsors, but we need much more to grow even faster. After all, it is the industrialists and business entities that will be the beneficiaries of improved analytical performance in the workplace.
Chess is easy to learn and play, contrary to some popular belief. Of course, playing to national or international standard is another story, but it is not top-flight players that the MFL initiative is trying to produce – it is the ordinary learner with a brain that needs enhancement. Unless the brains of many thousands of learners are ‘rewired’ at an early age, we are not likely to see any dramatic change in matric results in the foreseeable future.
If we work directly with the fundamental human material, then those brains are likely to be much more absorbent when they come face to face with maths and science in classrooms. Our learners will see a shining light when their brains ‘pattern-match’ chess moves and tactics with those needed for tackling maths and science.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
To subscribe email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
To advertise email email@example.com or click here
Other Dr Kelvin Kemm News
Updated 9 minutes ago South Africa's competition watchdog will ask for another extension to scrutinise Anheuser-Busch InBev's planned $106-billion takeover of SABMiller, its spokesman said on Thursday. The watchdog was due to finish its investigation on Thursday, after it was granted a...
Updated 1 hour 12 minutes ago FAW Vehicle Manufacturers South Africa (FAW SA) has seen a steady increase in sales and exports, following the opening of its Eastern Cape truck assembly plant in 2014. To date, FAW SA has recorded exports of 90 trucks. To be more specific, exports in the first four...
Updated 2 hours 56 minutes ago In a bruised domestic market scrambling for volume, Mazda Southern Africa is having a Zen moment. Mazda sales in South Africa reached 9 066 units in 2015, almost double the 4 939 units sold in 2014 – this in a new-vehicle market that dipped 4.2% last year compared...
Recent Research Reports
Energy Roundup – May 2016 (PDF Report)
The May 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for April 2016 and includes details of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s proposal to introduce a coal benchmark cost as part of its final decision on Eskom’s multiyear price determination...
Automotive 2016: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Automotive 2016 Report provides an overview of South Africa’s automotive industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into local demand and production, vehicle imports and exports, investment and competitiveness in the sector, as well...
Energy Roundup – April 2016 (PDF Report)
The April 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for March 2016 and includes details of a North Gauteng High Court Judge’s dismissal of a court application to postpone the 9.4% electricity tariff increase, which the National Energy Regulator of South...
Electricity 2016: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2016 report provides an overview of South Africa’s electricity sector, focusing on State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Energy Roundup – March 2016 (PDF Report)
The March 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for February 2016 and includes details of the Department of Energy’s plans to announce the preferred bidders for the first tranche of the coal independent power producer procurement programme; the Council...
Steel 2016: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2016 Report examines South Africa’s steel industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the global steel market and and particularly into South South Africa’s steel sector, including production and consumption, main...
This Week's Magazine
The two spent-fuel pools at Eskom’s 1 800 MW Koeberg nuclear power station, in the Western Cape, will be full by 2018, increasing the urgency on the State-owned utility to begin pursuing alternative storage options. Koeberg has, over the past 32 years, accumulated a...
South Africa lacks the skills necessary to implement the government’s plan to build 9.6 GWe of new nuclear energy capacity, warns nuclear-qualified Quality Strategies International CEO David Crawford. “Apart from the concern about the affordability of the programme,...
Cybersecurity multinational Check Point has released its latest 700-series cybersecurity systems for small businesses, which draw on its international threat intelligence to provide up-to-date cybersecurity, says Check Point South Africa country manager Doros...
Daimler Trucks and Buses Southern Africa (DTBSA) saw a marked slip in new-vehicle sales in 2015 compared with 2014, with sales dropping from 5 897 units to 5 300 units. The decline came as the South African new truck and bus market declined from 31 558 units in 2014...
Group of 20 (G-20) economies threatened to penalise havens that don’t share information on their banking clients after the leak of the Panama Papers provoked a global uproar over tax evasion. The G-20 will consider “defensive measures” against financial centers and...
Next ArticleThe case for nuclear