http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 13.06Change: -0.14
R/$ = 11.66Change: -0.12
Au 1213.36 $/ozChange: -4.14
Pt 1189.50 $/ozChange: -1.00
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Nov 09, 2012

Introducing learners to chess at an early age will help boost matric results

Back
Cape Town|Gold|Port|Pretoria|Africa|Components|Design|Education|GE|Industrial|PROJECT|Training|YouTube|Africa|South Africa|Richards Bay|Angie Motshekga|Garry Kasparov|Jacob Zuma|Kgalema Motlanthe|Olga
Gold|Port||Africa|Components|Design|Education|GE|Industrial|PROJECT|Training||Africa|||
cape-town|gold|port|pretoria|africa-company|components|design|education-company|ge|industrial|project|training|youtube|africa|south-africa|richards-bay|angie-motshekga|garry-kasparov|jacob-zuma|kgalema-motlanthe|olga
© Reuse this



Newspapers recently announced the start of the annual matric exam trek for thousands of school learners. One could virtually hear the drum roll as the country waits, with bated breath, to see what the results will be. It is not only the matric pass rate that is of interest, but also the subjects that learners take. Maths and science are always the big-ticket subjects.

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
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Dr Kelvin Kemm News
Just to be clear, to defer something means to postpone it. While this might be construed as procrastination, it provides a financial benefit in the customs and value-added tax (Vat) environment. The South African Revenue Service (Sars) deferment scheme provides a...
There has been considerable debate on whether Cape Town should rename a street after former President FW de Klerk. Many people of note have come out publicity in favour of the intended move. In fact, some African National Congress stalwarts have come out strongly in...
I read that Parliament has instructed a committee to look into a dress code for MPs. I think that this is an excellent move. Obviously, this was precipitated by the wearing of red overalls and maid’s outfits by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). In fact,...
Article contains comments
More
 
 
Latest News
Salani Sithole
International consulting engineering company Royal HaskoningDHV (RHDHV) has appointed Salani Sithole as South African MD, effective March 1. Sithole has been with the company for six years and, prior to joining RHDHV, held various positions in engineering consulting,...
The Gauteng Provincial Government has outlined plans to develop a handful of “mega” human settlements as part of an ambitious long-term housing development strategy aimed at narrowing the housing backlog, with plans afoot to replace informal settlements with...
Eskom power stations
While State-owned power utility Eskom was unable to cut off electricity supply to some of its neighbouring trade partners, it was able to reduce energy exports by 10% when load shedding was implemented locally. The Department of Public Enterprise explained that Eskom...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
National flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) is in an advanced stage of renegotiating its deal with European airliner manufacturer Airbus to acquire A320 single-aisle (or narrow body) aircraft. The aim is to replace ten of the aircraft still on order with five...
Worldwide, the main thrust in the ports industry over the past decade or more has been to increase efficiency. Traditionally, ports have been run by engineers and mariners and, in the past, increasing a port’s capacity was achieved by expanding the harbour. “That has...
What do you do when an elephant has a toothache? You call Dr Gerhard Steenkamp from the University of Pretoria’s (UP’s) faculty of veterinary science, Onderstepoort, one of only two elephant ‘dentists’ in the world.
The 2015 Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) competition was launched earlier this month in Johannesburg, with the main focus on creating and inspiring entrepreneurs to create jobs and boost the economy.
In a recent letter to the editor that I sent to Engineering News (Concerns regarding South African portion of Square Kilometre Array) and in a follow-up article elaborating further (We must start preparations to build our own synchrotron light source), I stated my...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks
Subscribe Now for $96 Close
Subscribe Now for $96