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Bala Wande: Counting with Confidence




 Zenex’s South African Mathematics Landscape Review undertaken in 2016 highlights the need for large-scale Foundation Phase mathematics interventions. These should be coupled with rigorous evaluations to determine what would work in improving learner outcomes in this area. Contributing reliable evidence to ‘what works’ in the early mathematics space is critical, given how little reliable evidence there is in this space, unlike in the early literacy space. The Bala Wande Project aims to identify the critical components of an intervention that will improve the mathematics outcomes of learners in the Foundation Phase (Grade R- 3) in South African no-fee public schools.


The conceptualisation of the Bala Wande Project was informed by the learnings of the Funda Wande (Literacy) Project. Bala Wande will be implemented in 60 schools in the Eastern Cape from 2019 – 2022 and evaluated using a Randomised Control Trial (RCT).


 The project aims to:

  • Contribute reliable evidence of ‘what works’ in the early mathematics space.
  • Provide policy makers with evidence for similar interventions at a larger scale.


The goal of the Bala Wande Project is to improve numeracy in the early grades of schooling. The project has the following outcomes: 

  • Develop Foundation Phase mathematics resources and make them available through creative commons licensing.
  • Assist Foundation Phase mathematics teachers to teach mathematics with confidence and for understanding.
  • Develop a university course for Foundation Phase mathematics teachers and Heads of Department (HoDs) in partnership with Rhodes University.


The Bala Wande Project provides an opportunity for the Zenex Foundation to build an evidence base for numeracy interventions in the early grades. The project is in line with Zenex’s strategy of focusing on and promoting numeracy in the early grades of schooling.

The interventions implemented through the project may effectively mitigate learning deficits in numeracy in the Foundation Phase. The DBE has recently initiated the Early Grade Mathematics Programme (EGMP) of which Bala Wande is a part. It is hoped that the intervention will be sustainable and scalable in the long term.

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