Early grade mathematics in South Africa

Author(s): Venkat, Hamsa; Roberts, Nicky

Publisher(s): Oxford University Press Southern Africa

Date: 2022

Pages: x, 231 p.


The need for early intervention to address lags in mathematical learning has increasingly been foregrounded, both locally and internationally. Since 2010 South Africa has seen a growth in studies designed to understand and improve learners' early grade mathematics performance. Yielding evidence-based insights from international large-scale assessments and smaller-scale design hubs, the research in this volume focuses on these developments. They include ways of improving number sense as a foundation for mathematics learning, supporting curriculum coverage through language, and the potential of maths clubs to encourage learning. Bringing together 26 researchers across nine universities, NGOs, and government, this volume documents evidence of learners' maths skills falling behind the curriculum in Grade 1, and the improvements achieved in focused interventions. The need for flexibility in working with the curriculum and enhanced orientations to multilingualism in interventions are also flagged. The volume reflects collaboration between researchers, policy-makers, and education districts, supported by multiple design hubs. There is growing awareness of what it will take to move interventions to scale. New directions, such as initial teacher education as a critical route for changing the system and the potential for Grade R to strengthen mathematical foundations, are also presented. The volume will interest researchers and policy-makers seeking to understand why children continue to struggle with basic calculations, what can be done about it, and where to focus policy attention.

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