Impact Area:

Quality Early Learning Programmes

Year of Investment and Stage:

Year of Investment and Stage: 2015 | Early Proof of Concept

Current Stage

Transitioning to Scale

Investment Amount:

>R1.5 Million

Financial Instrument:


Have we reinvested:



Closed, Active

With a vision of a mathematically engaged nation, MathsUp is an app used by Grade R teachers to access fun and relatable Mathematics content to help their teaching practice. It also helps parents/care givers support learning in the home environment. MathsUp is aligned to and supports the Mathematics content of the South African National Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) Grade R Mathematics. It has been designed to be used on android phones and mobi sites.

The Problem

South Africa regularly ranks as one of the worst performing countries in terms of Maths and Science attainment. Fewer than 12,000 learners every year (±1% of Grade 12 learners) 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 6 children are functionally innumerate. These problems arise largely because of a failure to lay good mathematics and literacy foundations during the first 6 years of a child’s life.
The majority of South African Grade R teachers do not have a formal teaching qualification. Most have a National Qualification Framework (NQF) Level 4 or 5, which does not adequately prepare them to teach the Mathematics content of the Grade R curriculum in preparation for Grade 1.

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

The Innovation

The MathsUp app aims to strengthen early Mathematics through the use of mobile technology to deliver accessible Maths content to Grade R teachers and parents of Grade R children. There is currently no other app of this kind, designed specifically to support the delivery of the South African Grade R Maths curriculum through coordinated school and home-based communication.
The app features daily fun hands-on activities that encourage problem-solving and investigative skills. These activities are supported by an A2 full-colour poster book. Suggested activities encourage play-based, active teaching and learning. Tips are provided on how to involve parents in their children’s maths learning at home. Stories and rhymes are recorded for easy listening in preparation for reading to or reciting with Grade R learners, and a direct link allows teachers to share information in-app with parents, colleagues and friends. The app is currently available in four languages, isiXhosa, isiZulu, English and Afrikaans.

Why we Invested

The app has been designed for internet-enabled devices to ensure maximum usage and leverages of our investment in The ECD Apps Launchpad, which provides the platform on which MathsUp is integrated. MathsUp provides a resource that supports existing classroom and teacher training initiatives by enriching and extending teachers’ experiences and practice in the classroom. MathsUp mitigates teacher training that traditionally relies on face-to-face contact and paper-based resources and is expensive to scale.

The intention is to test the extent to which this mobile app, carrying an adapted version of the same core CAPS Mathematics content and targeting Grade R teachers can improve classroom practice, encourage reinforcement of maths concepts in the home and ultimately improve child outcomes.

The Project Team

RED INK provides resources and education for teachers and 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.