It is common knowledge that South African learners are amongst the world’s lowest performers when it comes to Maths.
As learners move through the senior phase of Gr. 7 to Gr. 9 and mathematical operations become more abstract and complex, areas of weakness result in devastating dropout rates.
This scenario does not daunt a young Maths coach, Leo-Patrick Mackay, who believes that learners are bright enough and have the potential to attain the necessary levels of aptitude, with a bit of extra one-on-one help.
Mackay took up the role of Maths assistant at the Kareeville Primary School in De Aar last year to work with Gr. 6 learners, of which there are four classes of around 36 children each.
He explains that the large classes mean that teachers are not able to give the necessary time and attention required by the children who have fallen behind.
This is a vicious cycle as neither the learners nor the teachers are able to catch up.
This is where the De Aar Solar Power’s Numeracy Programme and specifically Mackay comes in. He has been trained to help these children who are not able to keep up, by working with small groups, but mostly individually.
He has the opportunity to make a difference and improve the learner’s fundamental understanding of Maths.
Mackay’s job may seem overwhelming to some, but he is passionate and dedicated, looking to the improvement in the learners’ skills to provide him with motivation and fulfilment.
He believes in the impact that he is making and is truly inspired by having a purpose in life.
“I didn’t know how much I would love being a Maths coach until I started working with the children.
“The look on the their faces when they get their test results and they have made huge improvement, is the best feeling because I can see how proud they are of themselves,” says Mackay.
The Kareeville Primary School has also implemented Maths clubs to further help learners, as well as getting parents involved.
“This as a great way to rally parental support and help improve support for the children at home; and our biggest uptake is when we run Maths clubs competitions, where we find the parents get the most involved.”
It is not only the learners at Kareeville that are benefiting, but Mackay himself, who has gained a lot of self-confidence through being a Maths coach.
“I’m making a difference and this has brought about respect from within my community; even children from my neighbourhood now come to me for help with their Maths homework,” he says.
De Aar Solar Power’s Numeracy Programme has been implemented in partnership with the Northern Cape Department of Education.
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