Dec 2014 / Jan 2015

Maths made easy by ClickMaths

Written by Ursula Graaff
Students now have the opportunity to learn maths in their home language.

This is all thanks to three South African graduates - Adrian Cox, Pratik Pokharel and Monique Baars - who founded ClickMaths, a non-profit organisation in 2012.

Cox, Pokharel and Baars were students at the University of Cape Town when they had the idea to start ClickMaths. They then formed a partnership with the Khan Academy, a global organisation that offers maths lessons on the Internet, to translate maths lessons into isiXhosa.

ClickMaths helps learners to understand maths and perform better at school.ClickMaths offers mathematic tutorials online through videos that can be accessed anywhere.

“We became aware of the language barrier that exists when students are trying to understand maths, and believe that maths skills will increase if learned in a mother tongue language as well as English.”

Cox, Pokharel and Baars believe that there is a big difference between learning and understanding a subject.

They view maths as a language on its own and is therefore difficult to understand when it is taught in a different language other than one’s mother tongue.

Being able to access maths in one’s home language makes it easier to understand and eventually improve maths marks, even though the tests are in English.

The trio chose to translate maths lessons into isiXhosa as it is widely spoken in South Africa, especially in many rural towns in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape.

They have also started translating maths lessons into isiZulu and would like to translate them into other South African languages.

“The long term vision of the project is, of course, not to stop here but to translate the syllabus into all the official languages. ClickMaths has already started on Phase 2 of the project using undergraduates at the University of the Witwatersrand to translate the lessons into isiZulu.”

There are 30 translators involved in the programme, 20 dealing with isiXhosa and 10 with isiZulu. There are many students who benefit from this programme as the material is freely available online.

ClickMaths has received an overwhelming response from both teachers and students.

The students feel they can finally understand concepts and the teachers appreciate the videos and use them as extra teaching material in the classrooms.

When asked why they chose the name ClickMaths they said: “We control technology to improve education. [It also has to do with] the ability to ‘click’ on a link and watch the video lesson and the focus on making educational content available in South African languages “many of which are famous for the 'click' sounds”.

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