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Plenary Session 1. (Opening Address) The Importance of Numeracy and in Particular of Statistics Literacy for South Africa

Keynote Speaker

John Volmink (South Africa)

Plenary Session Abstract

The development of a Revised National Curriculum Statement is seen as a key project in the transformation of South African Society. The thrust of the project is towards achieving "a prosperous, truly united, democratic and internationally competitive country with literate, creative and critical citizens leading productive, self-fulfilled lives in a country free of violence, discrimination and prejudice." (Curriculum 2005, Learning for the 21st Century 1997, Department of Education, Pretoria.)

Curriculum reform in South Africa thus faces a two-fold challenge. The first is the post-apartheid challenge which requires developing the knowledge, values and skills base for South Africa's citizens necessary for greater social justice and development. Secondly, there is the challenge of participating in a global economy. This raises questions about the knowledge, values, skills and competencies for innovation and economic growth for the 21st Century.

The view taken by the curriculum designers is that the best route to greater social justice and development is through a high-knowledge and high skills curriculum.

This paper will explore the meaning and importance of numeracy and in particular of statistical literacy, within this context. The paper will focus largely on the relationship between values and mathematical/statistical literacy within the South African context.


Keynote Speaker Biography

Professor John David Volmink ( is the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Natal and also Executive Director of the Natal University Development Foundation. He is a mathematics educator who started his academic career at the University of the Western Cape thence to Loughborough University, UK and completed the Ph.D. Degree at Cornell University.  He also served as a lecturer at several universities including: University of the Western Cape, University of Cape Town, and an Assistant Professor at Cornell University. He was Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME) and holds an honorary Professorship at the University of Nottingham, UK. He is involved with several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with a focus on education.

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