Curiosita 24 February 2015

Curiosita is one of the Da Vinci principles referring to an insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.

The Curiosita forum is a monthly colloquium for contemporary thinking on the Management of Technology, Innovation and People in a systemic context, hosted by The Da Vinci Institute for Technology Management. It involves a community of enquirers including PhD students and Da Vinci Alumnus who raise burning issues concerning their work based challenges and application as experienced during their PhD research journey or are interested in supporting their co-researchers in their journey. Debates include experts from the business environment; Da Vinci staff, Faculty and Associates and other interested individuals who assemble to present and discuss interesting topics, and to provide mutual support in the quest for continuous learning.

The Curiosita forum strives for enhanced participation and discourse for greater experiential learning rather than just “death by PowerPoint” – to capture Aristotle’s notion of Dialectic rather than that of Rhetoric speech.

On Tuesday 24 February 2015, a Curiosita forum took place at the Da Vinci Hotel, situated in Sandton, Johannesburg. PhD student Sophie Mparutsa is a senior post-matric mathematics teacher, teaching both “A Level” Pure mathematics and Statistics at St John’s College. The topic of her thesis for discussion at the Curiosita was ‘Statistics Education for South Africa: Literacy to Reasoning Intervention.’

Her ontological perspective originates with a rural Zimbabwe and with the passing of her father while at age 5. Her mother was such a positive person and she learnt that the way of improving ones situation is by utilising education as a tool to empower and lift up an individual, family or community. Ms Mparutsa states that each one of us is responsible to build bridges and her contribution is to that of the mathematical side. She states strongly that the people of world need to start helping kids to think from a young age. There is great importance in statistics to all of us. By obtaining and analysing data, one can make educated decisions.

Throughout her career she has gained trust, love and respect from both students and parents because of her passion and results produced at both the post matric level as well as matric level. The quality of results that she produced when she taught in Zimbabwe led to the invitation from the Mathematics Education department at the University of Zimbabwe to be an honorary lecturer in Mathematics teaching methods in their Graduate Certificate in Education programme. She was an honorary lecturer for 8 years before moving to South Africa.

She has been involved in several other areas in mathematics education in Zimbabwe:

  • Harare region mathematics chief examiner.
  • National mathematics chief examiner for the Junior Mathematics Certificate.
  • National mathematics text book evaluator.

In South Africa, she has worked with other authors in writing the following text books:

2006   Co-author: Keeping it Simple (Maths Literacy for the New Curriculum)

2007   Co-author: Advanced Programme Mathematics. Grade 11

2008   Co-author: Advanced Programme Mathematics. Grade 12

2012     Co-author: Maths Literacy. Grade 10.

She is currently working with other authors, on an updated Advanced Programme Mathematics Grade 10 text book.

Ms Mpartusa’s methodology is based on developmental research methods. The method would imply taking scientifically proven research, design a product and test it to see if it is effective. The process would allow for redesign and retesting but would originate from a needs assessment.

Feedback received from Dr Alan Barnard is that the reason people resist change is because there is already capacity issues. The first problem to solve is the need to show the importance. Dr Barnard states that very often the language used is one that people don’t understand. In her research Ms Mparutsa should make clear what problems do exist.

Feedback received by Dr Marthie de Kock, Research Manager at Da Vinci was to consider a mixed methods approach. Whilst Dr Jeann Dickinson, Alumnus, stated that action research may be viable in testing and seeing what is working. Technology was also indicated as a possible tool in establishing research. Ms Mparutsa is using the Positivist Approach including how people part knowledge with one another. Also reiterated was the benefits communicated to the business world as a practical application of the research.

”Men construe things out of their own fashion.” – Arthur Benjamin

The guest speaker, Rein van der Horst is the Country Manager for Genpact is responsible for the South African market and in some cases, also the African market. Genpact is a company of about 45 000 people and they are mainly concerned with outsourcing back-office processes. Their biggest focus markets are the USA, Europe, India and China. They deliver our sales from 18 different delivery destinations, which is Eastern Europe for Europe, the Philippines for the USA, China for China and India for India. The difference between a back office and a call centre is that a back office is more focussed on financial functions like invoice processing, claims resolutions, vendor & client payment and bookkeeping. In terms of logistics, they can also help companies calculate their cost prices and optimise their supply chains.

Genpact have clients in consumer products, in the mining industry, in the telecom industry, financial services and also in construction – these are all local clients. They do not render services for companies outside of SA at this time, but are working on including services for some of Genpact’s international clients here locally, as they want to tap into this client pool. Genpact are also looking to get off-shore work for some of their local clients. They start with companies who have revenue of 2 billion and more. They therefore focus on the mid-market and high-end market, because smaller companies lack skills when it comes to implementing back offices and these skills are very necessary.