May 2019

Following the success of a pilot learner maths club programme, which was implemented in two Hankey community schools during 2018, a full roll out across twelve schools in Hankey, Patensie, Sea Vista and Jeffreys Bay kicked-off this week.

Commencing with Grade 3 and Grade 4 learners in the first year, this programme will further extend to Grade 5 in the second year and Grade 6 the year after, at which stage it is expected that evidence can be collected as to the impact on learners.

“The Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s Foundation Phase programme is funding these school maths clubs, to drive up the level of numeracy understanding at foundation phase and to create a critical awareness of how mathematics is used in social, environmental, cultural and economic relations,” explained Hlengiwe Radebe, Economic Development Director for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.

The school Reading Assistants, which are also funded by the wind farm, noted a steady increase in attendance at both Vukani Primary and Gamtoos Primary Schools during the pilot phase. The report how heartening it is to see that more young children showing interest in the programme and of the excitement about the use of games and books used in a fun way to address the intricacies of Mathematics.

The importance of public-private partnership to address mathematics underperformance, as reported in many studies, is clearly required.

Caroll Warmberg, Managing Director, ITEC, which is responsible for the implementation of this intervention points out how in recent years it has become increasingly clear that weak national Mathematics achievements in South Africa are rooted in learning deficits accumulated in the earliest grades and that these gaps grow wider and wider as they progress through school.

“Teacher’s grasp on content remains one of the key causes of low achievement in Mathematics, in addition to home, school and community factors,” said Warmberg, when asked to explain why learners are achieving at three or four grades lower than expected.

The ultimate aim of the maths clubs is to inspire confidence and competence to deal with any mathematical situation without being hindered by a fear of mathematics; to gain an appreciation for the subject and to foster a spirit of curiosity and an interest.