Learners flock to UCT in their numbers

19 May 2002
THOUSANDS of high school learners from around the Western Cape made their way onto the UCT campus last week to compete in the annual UCT Mathematics Competition.

It took UCT administrative staff and teachers a couple of hours to "process" the learners and set them up in their respective venues. The event, first started in 1977, has become a highlight for budding mathematicians around the province.

As usual, the learners wrote a variety of papers – a suitable 75-minute test for each of the grades – competing either as individuals or duos. Hosts, the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, will again reward the winning learners at a prize-giving ceremony in May.

The competition has over the years served as the provenance of talent for successful South African math teams.

UCT also had a big hand in the success of the South African team to make a clean sweep of the gold medals at the 12th Pan African Mathematics Olympiad (PAMO), held in Pretoria recently. The four-member team won overall first place at the event, while their coach, UCT's David Hatton, was awarded a gold medal as the team leader of the winning team.

UCT's Professor John Webb also heads the Mathematical Talent Search, based at UCT, which recruits and trains the South African team.

With 11 African countries taking part in the competition, this year's field was the largest since the PAMO was launched in 1987. Participants had to work their way through two four-and-a-half hour papers on two consecutive days, each paper consisting of three questions.

Next year's Olympiad will be hosted in Mozambique.

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