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Riso, the supplier of innovative high-volume printers, has donated R10 000 to the Pass Rate Challenge programme initiated by The Answer Series. Conceived as a way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Answer Series, the programme aims to help change South Africa’s poor pass rates in Mathematics.

The Answer Series is a Cape Town-based publishing company specialising in study guides for high school learners.

“We recently installed one of our printers for The Answer Series, and were so impressed by the concept behind the Pass Rate Challenge that we just had to support it,” says Riso Corporate Development Manager, David Fulton. “Education is surely the country’s top priority if we are to dig ourselves out of trouble and provide a future for all South Africans. A company like The Answer Series is thus more than just a commercial undertaking—it’s part of the solution to our educational crisis, and so helping it work more efficiently is very important.”

The seeds of the Pass Rate Challenge lie in a previous initiative, Project Jika, which began in 2010. ‘Jika’ means ‘change’ in isiXhosa, and as part of Project Jika The Answer Series adopted two underperforming schools, one in the Eastern Cape and one in Limpopo, supplying them with free study guides for all the core subjects. Just that sole intervention has seen the matric pass rate at the Reuben Ntuli School in the Eastern Cape climb from 18% in 2009 to 63% in 2010 and 84% in 2012. Similar results were experienced at Limpopo’s Shayandima School, where 2010’s matric pass rate of 44% more than doubled to 96.6% in 2012.

Having proved that its guides really did deliver results, The Answer Series’ 40th anniversary project set out to use the same approach to make an impact on what many consider to be the country’s biggest educational challenge: the low throughput of matriculants equipped for the demands of 21st century business.

“We decided to focus on Grade 9 because it’s such a crucial year. By supporting learners in Maths at this early level, there is a far greater likelihood that they will make fitting subject choices, remain in school and go on to be successful in matric. This will improve their chances of qualifying for further education, and thus making a positive and significant contribution to the national economy,” says George Eadie, Strategist at The Answer Series.

It’s a real problem: The national Grade 9 pass rate in 2014 was a catastrophic 10.8%, with only 3% of learners achieving above 50%.

Launched on 14 April 2015, the Pass Rate Challenge used the crowdfunding platform Thundafund to raise R147 000 for the Pass Rate Challenge. This money was used to produce and deliver Grade 9 Mathematics study guides to learners at underperforming schools, at the breakeven price of R49 per study guide.

“Thanks to this project, some 3 000 Grade 9 pupils are being given the opportunity to lay the foundations for future success now,” says Fulton. “It’s a beginning—and we hope others will join us in supporting this worthwhile initiative.” To do so visit www.passratechallenge.co.za.

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