July 2019

Jeffrey’s Bay Comprehensive High School

A numeracy Imbizo, recently took place in Jeffreys Bay, in the Kouga Local Municipality, to address one of the key issues of education, namely numeracy, and how children can develop an interest and understating of Mathematics, with a focus of Mental Mathematics.
Educators, Heads of Departments and Maths Assistants attended this workshop to explore techniques regarding Mental Mathematics, as one of the most important topics for learners to grasp during the Foundation Phase.

Mastering ‘Mental Mathematics’ is key if learners are to be successful in their daily lives. Developing this concept should already start in Grade 1 and progress to Grade 6 and beyond. This Imbizo provides very exciting and powerful ideas to guide and support educators with the teaching of Numeracy in the Foundation Phase.

“We advocate a child centred approach, which encourages teachers to give children many opportunities “to do, talk and record” their mathematical thinking,” explained Caroll Warmberg, Managing Director, ITEC, the service provider responsible for the implementation of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s numeracy programme.

Emergent numeracy is strongly emphasized by: encouraging children to demonstrate their mental images either with concrete objects or use of drawings and sketches; giving children the opportunity to explain their thinking to their peers and teacher; encouraging children to record in writing the “story” of what their sketches show.

During the practical hands-on session, teachers and maths assistants explored the important building blocks needed by learners to understand Mental Mathematics and the developmental path from Grade 1 to Grade 3. This is essential if young children are to be able to make a confident start to mathematics.

The workshop looked at real problems that present children with mathematics processes that are embedded in meaningful contexts; encourage children to represent their mathematical thinking/understanding verbally and graphically with symbols of their own devise during the emergent numeracy phase; involve children in a variety of dialogues which encourages them to reflect on their mathematical thinking.

The Imbizo was led by the distinguished Dr Lise Westaway, who holds a number of academic qualifications in the field of Mathematics and Education. Her research interests include mathematics education, particularly critical mathematics education which foregrounds human rights, social justice and active citizenship. She was joined by her colleague Dr Pamela Vale also of Rhodes University Faculty of Education who holds the following academic qualifications; Phd; M.Ed, with distinction ; BA(Hons)(Psychology), with distinction; BA (Psychology; English), cum laude.

Warmberg 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.

“It is crucial to get the foundation phase right, especially in the areas of numeracy and literacy, which is why we fund and support foundation phase education in our surrounding communities. We believe that good-quality foundation phase education is critical so that we can build and improve on primary and secondary education,” concluded Hlengiwe Radebe, Economic Development Director for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.