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The bridges should back like transferred in Christian crisis, and the state sold out by a aforementioned transition. More university mathematicians need to be involved. A special effort must be made to uncover Black talent. Ways must be found to involve school teachers in the Talent Search.
A bigger training weekend is essential. In this way more expertise in this area can be developed. Since , the core of the Programme has been a nationwide Mathematical Talent Search.
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The Talent Search is a wide-ranging problem-solving programme, open to all; it is simultaneously a drive to promote interest in Mathematics in our schools, a Mathematics development programme for promising students and a first-stage training and selection process for the IMO.
As part of an enrichment programme, a successful four-day camp for 8 mathematically talented pupils from the Cape Town black townships was held in conjunction with the Stellenbosch Camp in December Unfortunately, there was no follow-up camp for such students, and the consensus was that AMESA need to be consulted extensively should such camps are planned in the future [14 a ]. Colourful posters promoting the Talent Search were mailed to thousands of schools and distributed at conferences for Mathematics teachers.
Top performers in local Mathematics competitions, the Interprovincial Mathematics Olympiad and the South African Mathematics Olympiad are encouraged by personal letters to join the Talent Search. High school pupils are sent a set of problems and invited to send their solutions in.
The entries are marked and returned with model solutions, comments, a short pamphlet on some mathematical topic and a new set of problems. This mailing covers more than high schools throughout South Africa. The opening round is also published in the January issue of Mathematical Digest, which is available free to high schools on request. The opening round contains five easy problems. Pupils are invited to submit solutions to the problems, and mail them in with a stamped self-addressed envelope. Their solutions are marked by student assistants and returned, with hints or model answers, suggestions for further reading, pamphlets on a range of topics outside the school syllabus, and the next round of problems.
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The subsequent Junior Rounds of problems are designed to give the newcomer to mathematical competitions some experience of problems that are common in Olympiads, but are not in the standard school syllabus. The Junior Round problems are set at a Grade 9 or 10 level, and are multiple-choice. Though elementary, the problems require a measure of insight and are designed to detect and stimulate mathematically promising pupils.
Progress is self-paced. The Talent Search is open to all, and is free. It allows children in rural areas to compete for camp invitations or a place in a national team on an equal footing with children in privileged urban schools. Individual students who are identified through regional or national competitions and Olympiads are sent personal letters of invitation to join the Talent Search. Those participants who were clearly having little difficulty with the Junior Rounds are diverted into the Senior Rounds. The Senior Rounds are designed to develop problem-solving skills, giving pupils experience of many important areas of Mathematics that receive insufficient attention in the ordinary school syllabus.
These include inequalities, advanced algebra and geometry, number theory and combinatorics. Important techniques of proof, such as mathematical induction and proof by contradiction are part of the programme. The Senior Rounds require fully written solutions, and are marked by students who are themselves veterans of the Talent Search programme and have represented South Africa at the IMO. Detailed comments on their solutions are sent to every participant in the Senior Rounds. The Junior Talent Search ends in September, and certificates are sent to all participants who have completed at least three rounds.
The Senior Rounds continue for another month. In October, invitations are sent to about 50 of the front-runners in the Talent Search to attend a Mathematical Camp at the University of Stellenbosch, which takes place in the first week of the December summer vacation. The emphasis is on high achievers in Grades 8, 9 and Achievements in local and national competitions and Olympiads, such as the UCT Mathematics Competition, the Interprovincial Mathematical Olympiad and the South African Mathematics Olympiad, are also taken into account in sending out invitations.
In , for example, about two thousand participants sent in their solutions in the opening round of the Talent Search, the numbers dropped off sharply, with 67 completing round three, 23 completing round 4 and 9 completing round 5 of the Junior Talent Search. The Senior Talent Search was more successful, and at the beginning of October, 41 students had exhibited significant ability and commitment to earn invitations to attend the December camp at the University of Stellenbosch.
The invitation to attend the Camp covers meals and accommodation, but not travel to and from the Camp. The programme covers a wide range of mathematical enrichment, with an emphasis on developing the problem-solving skills needed for success in Mathematics Olympiads. The week-long camp consists of an intensive programme of lectures, discussions and problem-solving contests.
The pupils are divided into teams, each with its own coach. The coaches university students who are IMO veterans are invaluable role models, and attend the camp as volunteers. While the emphasis in the camp is on group activities, it is not difficult to detect individual excellence among the participants. Invitations to attend the camp are much sought-after, and it is unusual for an invitation to be turned down.
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The camps have proved to be highly stimulating events for promising young mathematicians. There is scope for widening the Stellenbosch Camp to include streams for teachers and pupils from disadvantaged schools. Though the camp infrastructure residence and catering facilities can handle an expansion of this nature, there would be a significantly more work in staffing the extra streams, with extra expense in accommodation and travel costs for such groups.
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During January to March of the next year, the Stellenbosch campers continue to submit solutions to challenging monthly assignments in the next year. By this time they are tackling problems set in previous International Mathematical Olympiads. On the basis of their test results at Stellenbosch, and their progress in the assignments, between 15 and 20 pupils are invited to attend the IMO Selection Camp held at Rhodes University. The Rhodes Camp takes place in April.
Based on their performance at the Stellenbosch Camp, between 12 and 20 pupils are invited to the Rhodes Camp. The pupils write an IMO-style problem paper every day, and are given lectures on high-level problem-solving. They continue working on assignments. Finally, in July, the teams and reserves meet for a pre-Olympiad training Camp at a University in Gauteng. They leave directly for the IMO at the end of the camp. Thus, for every South African team, the IMO is the culmination of an month programme which begins with the launch of the Mathematical Talent Search in January of the previous year.
The Talent Search does not consist simply of doing the tests. Participants who aspire to winning a medal in the South African Mathematics Olympiad, or a place in the South African teams for the International Mathematical Olympiad team or the Pan African Mathematics Olympiad, or simply want to extend their mathematical horizons, have access to a range of inexpensive publications that have been published over the years in the IMO programme.
These volumes contain a wealth of Olympiad problems, with full solutions, and are recommended reading for all Olympiad hopefuls. These publications, including back numbers of Mathematical Digest, are made available at low prices to high schools from the University of Cape Town. Though there are overseas equivalents of these publications, they are never available in local bookshops, and would cost four to five times as much if ordered from overseas. Furthermore, the local IMO publications are a valuable source of enrichment material for Mathematics teachers.
For the first about thirty years since its establishment in , the final round of the South African Mathematical Olympiad had been dominated by English speaking boys, mostly from the exclusive English language private schools. In the period —83 there were medallists in total, boys and 10 girls. The reason, as was widely accepted, was that the teaching of Mathematics in those private schools encouraged problem solving, lateral thinking and enrichment, and not so much drilling to get good results in the Senior Certificate Matriculation examinations.
The medals went to those pupils whose schools provided the right sort of background for problem solving.
Today, all schools in the country are informed about the Talent Search, and all that is required from a participant is enthusiasm and the commitment to work through the problem-solving assignments. In , ten students were selected through the Talent Search to represent South Africa. The teams were chosen on merit. Five of the ten were girls, and three of the ten were not White. Girls are always under-represented at the IMO. In , for example, only 41 of the school students were girls. South Africa was one of only two countries with three girls in their IMO team of six.
The IMO has never taken place on the African continent. In his Report on the IMO, Professor John Webb mentioned that South Africa certainly has the infrastructure to host an IMO The major challenges might be the financial aspects and the mathematical support and expertise, since an experienced Problems Committee, a Jury and about 50 Coordinators for assessing papers are needed.
Selection for a provincial team is recognised by some schools as equivalent to provincial selection for athletics, cricket or rugby. Each province enters two teams of ten each: Junior Grades 8 and 9 and Senior Grades 10, 11 and 12 , and may also enter B,C,D,… teams at each level. The competition takes place on a Saturday afternoon in September in various centres around the country.
The teams write two papers: the first round is an individual event consisting of a one-hour multiple-choice problem paper, and the second round consists of ten quite difficult problems, to be solved by the team as a whole in 30 minutes. When all scores are in, the rankings are sent back to the provinces at about 5 pm.
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The strengths of some of the provincial teams over the years can be attributed to special programmes like, for example, the Nautilus Programme of the University of the Free State, the Mathematical Circle Project at the University of Cape Town and the fortnightly programme of Mathematics enrichment classes at the University of Stellenbosch. In , for the first time, the IPMO received corporate sponsorship, with Telkom donating R to be divided among the participating provinces. Telkom also sponsored the IPMO competition.
The present IPMO-sponsorship by the Actuarial Society of South Africa commenced in September , and each participating province is allocated a budget of up to R from which it may pay local costs, and provide refreshments, t-shirts and certificates for the teams.