The Zenex Foundation is committed to investing in Mathematics support programmes, informed by evidence from internal and external research and evaluation. To continue investing in new interventions, a need for continuous understanding of the landscape is critical. To this effect, the Foundation commissioned a landscape review with the aim of collecting evidence about Mathematics intervention programmes in South Africa. The purpose was to seek insight into the areas of greatest need in terms of phases, inputs and beneficiaries. In particular, the Foundation sought to better understand the concentration of interventions by type; phase; geographic location; content areas and by target.
The Zenex Foundation thus commissioned a landscape review of existing interventions and projects targeted at Mathematics education in South Africa.
The landscape analysis was conducted using document analysis and consultations with experts. The document analysis included a review of programmes, strategies and research reports from Non-Governmental Organisations; Government documents and lists of accredited Mathematics related programmes for educators. Researchers compiled project snapshots to determine the scale, duration, aims, types of schools and targeted phase of each project. There was a series of consultations with experts who provided insight on existing interventions and recommendations regarding areas of need.
The general lessons learnt were categorised into those related to planning and programme design issues, critical lessons at all levels of the education system including communication and how best to work with key stakeholders to navigate barriers at the provincial, district and school levels. Experts suggested that interventions are spread across all phases with some attention placed at the primary (specifically the GET Phase) and greater attention at FET phases, neglecting the senior phase. However, interventions reviewed for this landscape were mostly at high school level rather than there were at primary school level
This analysis revealed that there is considerable investment in resources and in people development within the Mathematics terrain in South Africa. Although the majority of projects have a national reach, there are far more projects in Gauteng and the Western Cape compared to the other provinces. A large number of projects and experts are approaching Mathematics pedagogically than there are those who adopt a cognitive perspective. Based on the analysis, recommendations included consideration for building on the existing interventions; designing interventions that concentrate on in-service teacher training in line with existing government interventions; defining common standards for initial teacher education; research and development on remediation (including differentiated assessments) and standardised assessment instruments; a focus on interventions that deal with number sense; tools, courses and professional learning communities targeting school management and leadership, supporting parental involvement programmes, support for professional development for subject advisors.
In cases where existing interventions are supported, it may be in the form of expanding their reach; and or expanding their sphere of influence and collaborative opportunities which encourage replication and further reflection and design.