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Accounting minus the maths

The Department of Basic Education wants to remove maths as a compulsory subject for pupils studying accounting until matric.

The department gazetted the proposed change to the Schools Act for public comment on Friday. Anyone interested in the potential change can send comments to it by August 4.

Department spokeswoman Troy Martens said feedback from parents, teachers and pupils revealed that many pupils who do not want to study pure maths still have an interest in accounting.

“In a number of engagements with teachers and parents, [they said] learners don’t want to take pure maths, but still want to take accounting.”

The restriction stopping pupils who study maths literacy from choosing accounting as a matric subject is “stifling the opportunities of learners”.

She said that there were careers in administration, marketing and bookkeeping that used accounting but do not require advanced maths skills. Martens said that if pupils wanted to study a Bachelor of Commerce degree in accounting or do degrees in finance and taxation, they would still need to study maths.

The proposal does not change university entry requirements for business and chartered accounting degrees.

Before the curriculum changed in 2011, pupils could choose accounting as a matric subject without studying maths.

Executive director of teachers’ union Naptosa, Basil Manuel, said: “The practical implications have forced the department to make this adjustment.”

He said thousands of accounting students were dropping maths in Grade 11 and switching to maths literacy, because they couldn’t cope. However, the pupils didn’t need to stop accounting in Grade 11.

“Accounting at school is simply a stepping stone to using an electronic accounting system later on. You don’t need to be a maths boffin.”

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