Local students shine at international Maths competition

It is heartening and encouraging to see just how well local students hold their own, when in direct competition with international students. This fact became very obvious at the recent international abacus championships, held at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg. The local competition was hosted by the Abacus Maths Soroban Association of South Africa (AMSASA), in conjunction with international organisation, the Global Association of Japanese Soroban Mental Arithmetic (GAJSMA).

More than 200 students from all over the Johannesburg area, including East and West Rand, other parts of South Africa, and also the rest of the world, gathered at the venue to vie for the top spots in each age category, using the abacus to show off their Maths skills. “The abacus, also known as the ‘soroban’ in Japanese, is a tool that we use to teach students how to master Maths problems in a very short space of time,” says Quinnette Brits, one of the directors of Abacus Maths, an organisation that teaches advanced Maths to eager young minds. “We are thrilled to share that South African kids fare very well in competition against other kids from far-flung places like Singapore, India and Thailand. They either win their age categories, or come in the top 5. This year, with the competition hosted by South Africa, was no different: our local kids excelled.”

Using the abacus to increase Maths skills is a relatively new phenomenon in South Africa, but it has been used in Japanese schools for decades already – and explains why Japanese kids are so smart, and become world leaders, particularly in science and technology. “In our years as daily users of the abacus, we have witnessed how genius is unlocked by using this simple ancient device, which is actually far better for the brain than a calculator,” says Brits. “It not only improves Maths skills, but it also grows all other areas of intelligence, including functions of the left and right brain. There is absolutely no doubt in OUR minds that when THEIR minds are moulded using the abacus, young kids, even from the humblest of circumstances, can become world thinkers. This is really great news for our country, and we are justifiably proud of all our students, from all walks of life, who have done so well.”