Weak Number Skills Affect Britain’s Economy

April 14, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. bill (n.) 
[bil] – a list of items that need to be paid
Example: Her mother paid their electric and water bills.

2. statistics (n.) [stuh-tis-tiks] – facts or data represented by numbers
ExampleStatistics say that English skill is declining.

3. auditor (n.) [aw-di-ter] – a person who inspects and checks financial records
Example: The auditor checked the balance of income and expenses.

4. root (v.) [root] – to be caused or to come from something
Example: Flooding is rooted in poor garbage disposal.

5. curriculum (n.) [kuh-rik-yuh-luhm] – a list of subjects offered in a field of study
Example: The student studied the curriculums to help him decide in choosing a course.

Read the text below.

British people’s poor math skills affect the UK’s economic performance according to National Numeracy, a charitable organization in the UK.

The group learned that British people have a hard time computing and understanding simple math—including math encountered daily—such as in pay slips, household bills and train schedules.

Statistics also show that from 26% in 2003, only 22% of people in England have enough math skills to get a good GSCE score.

KPMG auditors say failure to have basic numeracy (number and math ability) has led to a yearly loss of £2.4 billion.

Aside from affecting economic performance, having poor math skills is also linked to life problems such as unemployment, time in prison, inability to stay in school, poverty and long-term sickness.

Poor numeracy may have rooted from the fact that only 15% of Britons continue to study math after the age of 16. In other developed countries, 50 to 100% of people study math past this age.

Numeracy supporters also blame people’s negative attitude toward math. National Numeracy chairman Chris Humphries says easily giving up on math is a “British disease.” The group wants to improve British people’s number skills, just like how the National Literacy Trust group has improved people’s reading and writing skills.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education says it wants people to study math up to age 18 to meet the UK’s demand for professionals with high math skills. It says it is also reviewing how schools teach math in their curriculums.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why do you think some people do not like math?
·         Do you agree that one can be better in math by studying?

Discussion B

·         How important is math?
·         Can people live without math? Why or why not?


April 14, 2012