The Organisation for Economic Cooperation in Europe, a few years back in a comprehensive report on economic indicators, highlighted the fact that the standard of maths education directly affects the GDP of a country. In other words, if the maths standards are good, such as those in Singapore, the economy thrives. However, at the opposite end of the scale, bad maths standards equals bad economy.
We can see this playing out in our society.
If you are a businessman and own a small to medium-sized business in a city or town in South Africa, you are possibly reliant on the wealth and economic well-being of your local community to build your business and prosper.
Then petrol goes up.
Electricity shoots up. When we get it!
And everything else follows suit.
But behind the ability of that community, you rely on is their ability to move forward, get creative and rise above the financial and economic stresses. But can they?
If maths is well understood and well-articulated by a majority in that community, they can come up with ideas, innovations, and simple good plans and rise somewhat above the barriers. I am not saying this is guaranteed, but that community has a better chance to rise above the problem. Right?
If maths isn’t well grasped or many of the youth opt out of maths at school, that community goes effect of the pressure and unemployment rises, family conflicts over money arise and one sees a number of local businesses close their doors forever. And that latter result adds to unemployment and family financial pressures and down the community goes.
It isn’t a simple and all-encompassing solution, but it IS a solution. If we want our local communities to get through hard times, to rise above financial pressures, and for our local small and medium businesses to survive, we have to handle THAT that is the cornerstone of the problem – the ability of each individual to apply mathematical solutions, to think in terms of solutions and to articulate mathematically.
After all, maths is life and life is maths and we spend our entire lives working to solve the formulas of life so we can get ahead. And this understanding is what we get provided at school and many of us fail to get it and thus cannot solve the formulas of life – let alone know they exist!
Businesses can do well to invest in their communities uplifting maths understanding and bringing about a better, more positive future for the community and themselves. It takes a small step towards a big result.
I wish the economy could be fixed overnight and everyone could start to flourish and prosper immediately. But in real life, it will take the passion and commitment of business owners and decision-makers from the SME sector, the corporate world, and other community leaders to turn the scene around – and it starts with education. Education is the bedrock of prosperity and a thriving economy of any society. And as I stated above, it’s maths that creates the breakthrough.