Many African children still only receive a primary education, and many primary teachers of mathematics in parts of Africa are poorly trained. Associate Professor Jennie Golding began by suggesting that poor mathematical literacy is holding sub-Saharan Africa back.
She described a pilot project addressing this issue: a collaboration with Marjorie Batiibwe of Makerere University, Uganda, part-funded through a CDE Teaching and Research award. Ten East African ‘mathematics teacher educators’ were given an intensive 10-day residential course and three months’ work in their home environments using email and WhatsApp. Online resources were provided by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences’ schools enrichment centre (AIMSSEC), based in South Africa.
The participants’ backgrounds varied widely; their knowledge of advanced mathematics and primary education varied, as did their access to technology. Many reported problems with electricity supply and Internet access, and not all had smartphones.
All participants reported that they found the course both useful and engaging, and only two of the original 10 failed to complete it all. When interviewed afterwards, five participants reported that they had been able to embed the range of pedagogy that they had learned into their whole teaching practice; the other three had made smaller changes.
Two further courses are currently planned, but funding remains a challenge.