May 2021.

Hanover Primary, in the small town of De Aar, joined 6 million learners from 98 countries across the globe in celebrating World Maths Day, one of the world’s largest global educational events which took place on the 5th May 2021.

“Our very first World Maths Day event is one of my favourite moments, as it was focused on encouraging a positive attitude towards mathematics. The learners were very participative and as a coach I got to enjoy it just as much. We played games, made posters, and concluded the event with a “Maths March” throughout the community, chanting and singing as we walked the streets. Learners were so happy and excited and I could see that for a moment, Maths had given them a reason to smile. This was a priceless moment for me. A moment that instilled the love of Maths,” exclaimed Numeracy Coach, Chadwin Erasmus, who has been working at Hanover Primary, as part of the De Aar Solar Power’s Numeracy programme, says that this was a highlight for many young learners at the school.

This annual event aims to get primary and secondary school students excited and enthusiastic about learning maths, whilst connecting the global learning community and fostering friendships between children of different cultures as they learn to excel in mathematics together.

Chadwin, who has been a Numeracy Coach for three years, is currently studying a Bachelor of Education, Intermediate Phase, as part of De Aar Solar Power’s bursary programme, which is education focused. This allows Chadwin to continue working, as a Numeracy Coach, while studying towards his degree, which he expects to complete by 2024.

“Being a Numeracy Coach has given me the courage to embark on a journey of change. I became more cautious of my choices and aware of how my actions indirectly affect others. I gained a sense of dignity and tend to value life more, as feelings of hopelessness subsided. This opportunity also alleviated most of the social issues I endured, placing me in a position to act on my responsibilities,” explained Chadwin.

Mathematical achievement in the primary years is an important predictor of future academics. Grade 4, in particular, is an important phase as learners focus on multi-digit multiplication and division, learning to use bigger numbers, solving multi-step word problems that involve several operations, and they start studying fractions and decimals, so it is critical that they don’t get left behind.

By working with small groups, but mostly individually, coaches have the opportunity to really make a difference and improve the learners’ fundamental understanding of maths and to grow their confidence.

“Numeracy is deemed challenging for learners, as many still lack the basic skills, causing even greater challenges with regards to more complex content. This programme, however, has the ability to bridge the gap, through means of an inclusive approach. Coaches provide learners with the additional help needed, as teachers sometime do not have the capacity to reach out to all the learners that are struggling. We do not replace the teacher, but we simply assist in the process of active mathematics assistance,” he concluded.

De Aar Solar Power’s Numeracy Programme has been implemented in partnership with the Northern Cape Department of Education. The programme comprises 15 Numeracy Coaches across 11 schools in the communities of Hanover, Philipstown, De Aar and Britstown. It addresses key issues relating to foundation phase numeracy, which is supported by trained maths assistants as well as school maths clubs.

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