Mathmoms Report

The MM reported experiencing a new lease on life in the sense that they had found new purpose and drive through the Math Moms project.

The school educators also reported positively on the project noting that the majority of the learners in the project showed some improvements in their understanding of basic mathematical concepts such as multiplication, division and subtraction. There were also a significant number of learners (N=13 out of 32) who showed immediate improvements in their September tests.


Math Moms (MM) report


The learners reported feeling more valued and supported especially with their Maths, but also on a personal level, with MM showing them more support in their quest to understand the basic concepts of mathematics. The learners reported feeling more relaxed and less anxious in the math session with the MM as opposed to the teaching from their educators.


The target community for the Math Moms project is the Valhalla Primary school in Elsies River. The area is relatively close to the Cape Town CBD, but the area is plagued by high levels of crime and unemployment.

According to the 2011 Census only 28% of the population of 20 years and older, thus the working corpse, have completed Grade 12 or higher.

In 2014, 54% of Grade 3’s achieved a pass rate of 50%, whereas only 14,9% of Grade 7’s could achieve that rate .[1]

We do not teach them Maths as a deeply penetrating field of study, we play with the counting line, in order for the learners to grasp the basic concepts and to ensure that they can work with those concepts. We do what the moms, who help the children with Maths, would do afterschool. We just do it in an organized, and thought through basis, which would facilitate grasping of basic concepts.

The research, undertaken by Soreaso, was funded by Regeneration, a private consultancy in the sociological field. The scope included an assessment of the value that the program is adding to the quality of life of the affected community, mothers, learners, their families, and the schools including the teaching staff in the Valhalla Primary School, as well as the merits of Math Moms as a church-led program.

All the project participants interviewed were very positive about the project. The school staff, the Math Moms as well as the learners were all in agreement that the project made a difference in the lives of all involved.

The three educators who responded to our research felt that the project is successful in that it provides the learner with a much needed almost one-on-one scenario where the learners feel more at peace and could thus learn more effectively. The educators expressed a strong desire for collaboration with the MMs so as to ensure a stronger response to the individual learners’ needs. They all had only good things to say about the project. One educator exclaimed: “I could see some differences in 5 of the 8 learners in the September tests. It was not major but there was a greater level of confidence. The other two are also now showing a better understanding”

During the researcher’s interaction with the Math Moms it was very clear that they truly enjoyed their time together. They felt supported and uplifted by the project and each other. They were very grateful to the project manager for her support and commitment to the growth of not only the learners in the project, but also their own growth as women in the community. During the focus group discussion the MM reported feeling more self-assured and self-confident. They are now more willing to take on challenges, than before the MM project. They felt that the project gave them confidence and the support from each other gave them the platform to take on whatever challenges that lay ahead. These were women who face with severe hardship. They are all from the local area and making a living for themselves and their families in the Elsies River area is not without major challenges. But this project seems to have given them some degree of self-worth.

The school psychologist is also very positive about the future of the project. She believes that the project is truly beneficial to the learners at Valhalla. When asked about the project she noted: “It is an amazing initiative to assist our learners who sometimes only need the individual attention to be able to make progress and this project is providing that crucial intervention.” She is hoping that the project can be extended to other schools as well. She feels that the classroom is often the only place where learners from poorer communities get inputs into their schooling. She believes the individual attention the learners are getting through the MM project “makes a huge difference in the attitude of the learners towards schoolwork as well as improving their results which has other ripples like improved self-esteem, positive attitude, improving behaviour because they are achieving mastery”.

Extracts from a report written by Caroline Poole