- Wits University
The sixth annual prize-giving for the Maths Competition is more than a ceremony, it is a celebration of the significant impact that maths can have in Africa.
Wits University hosted its sixth annual prize-giving for the Maths Competition 2023 on 31 October. The competition began in 2018 and aims to promote mathematics at all levels in Africa. The competition has five levels, Middle Primary (Grades 4 and 5), Upper Primary (Grades 6 and 7), Junior Secondary (Grades 8 and 9), Senior Secondary (Grades 10, 11 and 12) and Undergraduate. This year the competition received approximately 11 000 entrants from all nine provinces of South Africa as well as entrants from Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, Nigeria and Liberia.
Jonathan Kariv, a Lecturer at the School of Computer Sciences and Applied Mathematics and the driving force behind the Wits Maths Competition 2023, shares insights into the competition's motivations and the unique aspects that set this year apart.
"At the heart of our mission is the desire to uncover and nurture local mathematical talent. We aim to introduce students to the captivating world of competition mathematics, fostering a deep appreciation for the subject and encouraging further exploration, even into the realms of research,” says Kariv.
One significant development this year was the inclusion of Allan Gray as a sponsor, marking a pivotal moment in the competition's trajectory. This partnership enabled the hosting of a July training camp at Wits, where learners who had excelled in the qualifying round immersed themselves in a week of intensive Olympiad mathematics training.
"This initiative was a game-changer, providing a unique opportunity for talented individuals, including those facing socio-economic challenges, to engage with advanced mathematical concepts and elevate their skills," says Kariv.
Reflecting on the impact of this year's competition, Kariv highlights the return to a traditional format with a final round at Wits and regional centres, culminating in a lively prize-giving ceremony.
"This marked the first truly post-COVID year for the competition, allowing us to bring participants together physically, fostering a sense of community and celebration that was sorely missed during the previous year's virtual events."
The success of the Wits Maths Competition is perhaps most evident in the sheer magnitude of participation. With 11 000 eager minds vying for mathematical supremacy, the competition has become a testament to the growing enthusiasm and interest in mathematics within the community. The impact of this annual event extends beyond the competition itself, permeating the fabric of society and leaving an indelible mark on the educational landscape.
As one of the competition winners and grade 5 learner at Norkem Park Primary School, Thandolethu Ngulube, puts it, "Wits counts, not just in the realm of academia, but in the broader societal context. The Wits Maths Competition serves as a powerful vehicle for transformative experiences, unlocking the potential of thousands of young minds and propelling them towards a future where mathematics is not just a subject but a lifelong pursuit."
A list of 2023 winners is here.