Green Shoots

This initiative is part of the 2015-16 WISE Accelerator Cohort. 

What they do

Improving the quality of Maths education through ICT: Use of an online Maths Curriculum to progressively track individual learners to promote data informed decision making by all role players within the education system.

This project combines a structured online Maths Curriculum for grades 1 to 9; which tracks individual learner progress throughout a year. It comprises a comprehensive teacher training and professional development program that develops the role of assessment of learning through ICT. A further development program for school management and Education Department officials encourages real-time data-informed decisions when planning strategies and interventions for Maths teaching and learning. They are partnering with Gooru Learning with the aim of scaling this model for a national and international audience.

Why it matters

Around 56 percent percent of children in South Africa live below the poverty line. Access to quality education is one of the most powerful weapons available to break the poverty cycle for them. Like so many developing nations across the world, South Africa is struggling to deliver quality primary education to all of its children, particularly with respect to Maths. There are some 12.4 million, learners at 25, 826 schools within South Africa. In the 2014 Annual National Assessments for Mathematics, the percentage of learners who failed to gain at least 50 percent for grade 6 (ages 10-11) and grade 9 (ages 14-15) were 65 percent and 97 percent respectively. It is clear that South Africa has a national crisis on its hands with Maths education.

A firm foundation in Maths in the primary years should be non-negotiable. The quality of teaching and learning in primary Maths urgently needs improving.  But access to quality Maths education is only the first step. Learners need to be guided, supported and encouraged throughout their learning journeys. This personalized attention can be informed by ongoing summative assessment made possible by ICT. Green Shoots achievement of quality primary Maths education, underpinned by an innovative use of technology is a local solution to a global problem.

Tractions so far

Green Shoots uses a cloud-based Moodle platform to implement an online Maths Curriculum for South African grades 3-9 (ages 8 -15). Each learner at every school receives an individual log-in and password to the Maths Curriculum Online (MCO) program. Green Shoots has created weekly online exercises that are exactly aligned to the content, for the entire school year. Through the Moodle platform, each online activity or Brain Quest is auto-marked and the learners are able to receive immediate feedback on the answers. Teachers receive real time summary feedback, per child, per question.

Since the project formation in 2012, over 58,783 learners, 1,220 teachers, 111 schools and 36 youth development posts have been supported. It has improved the quality of teaching in Maths in multiple aspects. For example, 81 percent of teachers have increased the number of methods used to teach mathematical concepts, and 80 percent report that the program has made teaching mathematics more interesting for them, while 69 percent report that it has improved their subject knowledge.

It has also improved learner’s attitude to and engagement in Maths. Over 50 percent of the students reported an increase in their concentration when using the program to do maths, and 47 percent felt more confident to try new concepts and questions while 43 percent felt more aware of where they need to improve. The program has also improve their academic results, 68.9 percent of the children in grade 6 following the program during the last year passed the Annual National Assessment exam, compared 35 percent of children at the national level.

April 26, 2015 (last update 01-03-2021)