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First-ever fully online training programme for primary school teachers launched in SA

Pupils Ayakha Ngubombi and Pumlani Mfeketho during the maths exercise. Picture Cindy Waxa.

Pupils Ayakha Ngubombi and Pumlani Mfeketho during the maths exercise. Picture Cindy Waxa.

Published Apr 19, 2022


Johannesburg - Today, South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) begins its first-ever fully online training programme for primary school teachers.

A total of 399 teachers will attend this, the first of two Primary Teacher Mathematics Problem-Solving courses this year.

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Alwyn Olivier, a retired mathematics lecturer and the academic coordinator of the SAMF's primary school teacher development programme, and Dr Erna Lampen from the University of Stellenbosch developed the course content.

"The course is our attempt to help teachers to break out of the current self-perpetuating cycle of mediocrity and rote learning in mathematics teaching and learning in the country, by experiencing mathematical power such as to learn to think like a mathematician – to explore, conjecture, and reason logically,” said Olivier, a member of the South African Mathematics Challenge (SAMC) Problem Committee for many years.

"The SAMC questions are aimed at conceptual knowledge, applying knowledge in new situations, problem-solving, reasoning, communication, and general mathematical thinking."

The SAMF partnered with Limina Education Services, supported by Nestlé Nespray.

The integration of Limina's learner management system and online educational technologies allows far more teachers to attend the development programme than in previous years.

Dr Isabel Tarling, the founder and director of Limina who holds a PhD in Education Technology, says the advantage of online learning theories was that it created an open learning context that maximised students' learning experiences within a flexible enabling environment.

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“We follow a social constructionist approach designing learning to be student-centred, shared and visible. Our learning experts create the learning structure on the LMS, allowing students to choose when they want to go online and where they want to study."

Tarling says the programme takes into account that many South Africans do not have access to the internet.

"Our learning designs chunk the modules into bite-size pieces and provide these as downloadable, off-line packages that teachers and students can download and access when they don’t have internet access. Seeing as many students and teachers can access mobile phones but not always computers, all our courses are optimised for mobile access to allow greater participation."

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The almost 400 teachers enrolled on the SAMF Mathematics Problem Solving course come from across the country. SAMF facilitators and the Limina team provide real-time support to smaller groups of teachers to ensure that every teacher gets help and guidance as and when they need it.

"In 2020, we rolled out advanced training for the selected facilitators," says Olivier.

"After thorough training, we are confident in their abilities to support primary school teachers to develop their own problem-solving know-how and attitudes."

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This first course runs until the end of May. Applications for the second intake of primary school mathematics teachers will start in May. The second course runs from July 18 until the end of August.

The Saturday Star