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Using mobile technology to deliver accessible and fun maths content to Grade R practitioners and parents of Grade R children to strengthen foundational numeracy.

The need

South Africa regularly ranks as one of the worst performing countries in Maths and Science achievements. Fewer than 12,000 learners every year (±1% of Matrics) achieve more than 70% in Maths and Science – a level generally considered necessary to be selected for degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering or Medicine.  

A recent report from the University of Stellenbosch revealed that 40% of Grade 4 children are functionally innumerate. These problems largely arise because of a failure to lay good mathematics and literacy foundations during the formative years of a child’s life.

Inequalities in educational achievement are ‘locked in’ from the earliest years of schooling as many children enter Grade 1 already behind, having missed out on crucial learning and development opportunities in the early years. The result is that children from more affluent backgrounds who attend well-resourced schools see their relative advantage extend through their school careers, while children from low-income backgrounds who attend poorly resourced schools fall further and further behind.

A scalable and affordable intervention to strengthen foundational numeracy is needed, targeting teachers and simultaneously empowering parents to support their children’s learning within the home.

The innovation

A scalable and affordable mobile solution to laying the necessary foundations for Mathematics.

Teachers are provided with bite-size Maths content that is delivered Monday to Friday, through message reminders, guiding them on a per term basis through the Grade R year. The app includes activities that encourage problem solving and investigation, Maths vocabulary, questions and additional information for further exploration of Maths concepts. The app also provides tips for teachers on how to involve parents in their children’s Maths learning at home. Stories and rhymes are recorded for listening in preparation for reading to the children.

Suggested activities encourage play-based active teaching and learning. The navigation gives quick access to posters, activities and information on why it is important to teach the content for the week. A direct link allows teachers to share information in the app with parents, colleagues and friends. The Beta version of the application is available on the Google Play store and can be downloaded for free here.

The App is one of several built on the modular ECD Apps Launch Pad.

Key insights

The MathsUp app will provide an exciting means for teachers and parents to access quality mathematics content.

We believe that delivering the content in this format, with regular positive feedback; will make the content seem less intimidating, while providing a sense of progress resulting in high levels of continued engagement.

The project team

Redink provides resources and education for learners. They develop high quality materials and offer training and mentoring programmes for children and parents/caregivers.

Reach Trust has helped more than 10 million people transform their lives through access to free education, health and counselling services on their mobile phones.