Using print and digital resources to teach mathematics in South Africa

South Africa has an ongoing issue with the teaching and learning of mathematics. A University of Stellenbosch study in 2012 found that only 58% of grade 6 learners were functionally numerate, stating “at least a quarter of children have learnt so little in six years of formal full-time schooling that they have not even mastered functional literacy or numeracy”. The Department of Basic Education’s statistics shows that only 3% of grade nine learners got over a 50% average in mathematics. The problem is complex; factors include a poor grounding in numeracy in the Foundation Phase years, coupled with some teachers who are not comfortable with the subject. While in no ways a maths expert, I’ve been working on a digital and print blended maths product for the past year, which I hope could add to the resources teachers can draw on to assist learners understanding mathematical concepts. 

The Study & Master Maths Online Workbooks integrate a print book with targeted practice exercise and an online mathematics teaching and learning platform to improve understanding of critical mathematical topics. A recent report by the UNESCO Working Group on Education states that blending traditional off-line education approaches with digital applications appears to be a more successful approach to digital learning, with activities that involve engaging with physical resources proving effective in a wide variety of contexts.

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Pioneering home-language learning of mathematics in a digital environment in South Africa

Learning mathematics in a second language has been identified as a major barrier to understanding mathematical concepts and terms for South African learners. The Cambridge Maths Dictionary App (English and isiXhosa) is an easy to use, helpful mobile reference tool for South African learners aged between 10 and 15 years old (Grades 4 to 9). Written in a language that is easily accessible to non-¬≠mother tongue speakers of English, the app  contains over 900 Maths terms and definitions in both English and isiXhosa. Words are explained using examples relevant to the South African context and entries are supported with compelling visual content  to further enhance the explanations and to reinforce the concepts.

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