In response to the dire state of mathematics education in South Africa, Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) published a report in March 2022 to constructively re-examine methods of teaching mathematics in South Africa. The research investigated the possibility of a unified way of teaching maths that could benefit both teacher and learner, and whether a unifying logic existed for how mathematics could be taught.
The research found that suitable pedagogies can be built. They would need to be based on the different cognitive modes on learners, and consider their language, culture, and living environments.
The study considered that the disparities in results in post-apartheid South Africa are particularly concerning, with white students performing better on external assessments, closer to the international average, than students from traditionally black schools. Post-apartheid South Africa has inherited an unequal education system, and this socio-economic context must be considered when designing and implementing teaching methods and systems.
MISTRA worked with mathematics teachers in focus groups while conducting the study.
The study makes recommendations for policy development in the following areas:
- Curriculum development to take account of educators’ views
- Specialist maths educators
- Use of technology
- Scaled down syllabus and more time to internalise
- Class assistants
- Strong foundation