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ICTs in early-grade mathematics education in South Africa

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11.24.2023

ICTs in early-grade mathematics education in South Africa

How do we turn the tide of underachievement in mathematics in South Africa?

“Without Mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is Mathematics. Everything around you is numbers.”
Shakuntala Devi, mathematician, motivational speaker and author (popularly known as the “human computer”)

Mathematics is powerful and a strong mathematical understanding can unlock opportunities.

ICTs can open the doors to meaningful mathematics learning if we design relevant programmes.

ICTs have the potential to mediate the learning of smart skills like collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking, crucial for the prosperity of any country. The assortment of notations, formulae, figures, symbols and graphs in mathematics are sometimes difficult to demonstrate using ‘chalk and talk’ methodologies. With ICT applications, this ‘assortment’ can be taught meaningfully and dramatically. Despite the rapid improvement in software packages, technology is still marginally integrated into education because of contextual factors, inadequate infrastructure, poor technology, theft and abuse, low educator self-efficacy and professional development, a shortage of skilled coaches, and high staff costs.

But there is hope if we design, implement and upscale future programmes while being cognisant of differentiated personalities, challenges and views in schools that often have multigrade and large classes. Understanding that the ICT adoption journey takes time, patience and customised support, allows for building learning communities and underpins ownership, teamwork and innovation.

Read more about the Zenex Foundation’s national review to understand how challenges and lessons can inform the design and implementation of ICT programmes in early-grade mathematics education in the future.

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