Maths textbooks outside the classroom

“When France sneezes, the whole of Europe catches a cold” – Napoleon Bonaparte

On this particular occasion when the Thebe Foundation sneezed, the Mpumalanga province caught a cold. The Department of Education, Maths Centre, learners and communities quickly grabbed their tools to collaborate with the Thebe Foundation to create maths textbooks (hubs) outside the classrooms of Gert Sibande and Nkangala districts’ schools. Teams from Thebe Investment Corporation and its subsidiaries – Thebe Ya Bophelo and Timrite – rallied the support and assistance of the Nelson Mandela Foundation to assist with the project. First Car Rental ensured that the Thebe Foundation team arrived at their destinations safely and comfortably.

Local Chiefs rushed to the sites with excitement, rolled up their sleeves, grabbed paintbrushes, painted some lines on the chapters of these interactive “textbooks” and placed their stamp of approval on the maths hubs. They each echoed the sentiments of their communities, the schools as well as the Department of Education when expressing their gratitude and pointing out that they were glad the children of each of the project schools now have opportunities to better themselves.

In delivering her speech, Nosipho Kwehla-Nxiweni, the Senior Project Manager and Education Specialist for the Thebe Foundation, focused on strengthening public-private partnership and the sustainability of Thebe Foundation’s interventions. She stunned everybody when she likened the creation of these maths hubs to a historical event as she narrated, “While historians claim that Bismarck believed in uniting German states by means of blood and iron; Thebe Foundation demonstrates unity by means of knowledge and power.”

The Thebe Foundation views these maths hubs as textbooks written outside classrooms in order to create ‘two worlds of learning’ – the inside world (the classroom) and the outside world (the hubs) – making a paradigm shift from theory to practice. Maths hubs take the lessons of the classroom and turn them into the games of the playground. The hubs enable learners to learn at their own pace, with or without the instruction of a teacher thus making learning maths a fun experience. The maths hubs are a step towards the scaling-up of Thebe Foundation’s education project – not only through depth, shift in ownership, and sustainability but mostly through expansion and replication especially to the principals and teachers from non-project schools who attended and participated in the establishment of these maths hubs.

Mokgethi Tshabalala, the CEO of the Thebe Foundation, expressed his gratitude for the partnership with all relevant stakeholders as well as their cooperation in ensuring that the project is made a success throughout the Mpumalanga province.