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SARChI Chair in Mathematics Education

The SARChI Chair in Mathematics Education  

In 2009, Prof. Jill Adler was awarded a SARChI Chair in Mathematics Education (previously called the First Rand Foundation (FRF) Chair in Mathematics Education) on the basis of a proposal for a mathematics development and research project in ten secondary schools in Gauteng. The project, named the  Wits Maths Connect Secondary Project (WMCS), is in the second five-year phase,  the first running from 2010 - 2014, and the current phase from 2015 - 2019. The Chair is funded by the FRF and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and is now located within the SARChI office of the National Research Foundation (NRF). The central goal of the project is to strengthen the mathematics pipeline in the secondary school. In phase 1, we focused on both the Grade 9 - 10 transition, and the transition from school mathematics into mathematics-related study in tertiary institutions. In phase 2 we focus only on the Grade 9 - 10 transition as the more critical 'leakage' in the secondary school. The aim is thus for more learners to be able to choose Mathematics in Grade 10 and to succeed, and ultimately for more learners to qualify to study mathematics-related courses at university. The professional development (PD) work is concerned with supporting teachers to improve their mathematical knowledge for teaching. We concentrate on key mathematical concepts necessary for success in the secondary school years. An overarching research agenda is woven into the project goals and vision. This includes a focus on teachers' take-up from the PD as well as the impact of the PD on learner attainment.

The award of a Chair with an explicit development and research agenda is a welcome innovation in funding. It presents an opportunity for direct engagement with the challenges posed by one of South Africa'€™s most intractable problems: mathematics teaching and learning. The development and research work is in the hands of a dynamic team comprising existing staff members and post graduate students of the Wits School of Education and others specifically recruited for the project from the GDE and elsewhere.