Introducing the Math Moms of the Cape Flats

Some of the Math Moms with their certificates

In 2016, a group of retired teachers from Elsies River, Uitisg and Ravensmead came together and decided that they cannot just sit around while there is an education crisis in South Africa. Instead of sitting back and enjoying their retirement, they decided to start an organization that would focus on empowering the youth through education. The big question however was, ‘how’?

Researchers at universities have shown over and over again that moms are the most powerful weapon against the low rates of education. This makes sense because too many men skip out on their responsibility and statistics shows that almost half of South African kids grow up with a single mom.  Given these facts, it would make perfect sense that if a mom knows how to help their kids with their school work, then these kids will do much better at school. Given these facts, the retired teachers decided to start a project that focuses on moms.

Bertha Losper, a former teacher at Eurecon Primary, says that they specifically focused on teaching the basics of maths to stay-at-home moms. They wanted these moms to be able to help their kids with maths homework in the afternoons. They started their project at Valhalla Primary in the Elsies River in 2016 and this project eventually became the organization known as MathMoms, with Bertha as one its founders.

After the initial success of the project, MathMoms expanded their focus by working directly with the kids and building their self esteem. Bertha says that very often the parents works till late so there is no-one to help the kids with their homework. The other problem is that the violence in the area makes the kids feel despondent and they cannot focus on their schoolwork. The goal of MathMoms is to help these kids to be able to not only do their homework, but also make them realise that if they work hard, they can become anything they want to become.

The way MathMoms get directly involved is to ask the moms that they train to help out in schools for 2 to 3 days a week. The moms teach the kids about the foundations of mathematics and each mom is assigned 4 kids. There are currently 35 moms helping 440 kids in 5 schools. By the end of this year, MathMoms plan on increasing the number of ‘math moms’ to 100.

There are also 7 mentors who teach the moms. The mentors teach the moms over an eight week period but they aren’t only taught about maths. Because they work in an environment where there is violence, the moms are also taught about trauma counseling. Each mom is seen by the kids as a pillar in the community that they can trust and rely on.

According to mentor, Faheema Hassiem, one of the problems faced by kids is that parents do not see the value in teaching their kids about maths. They see maths as something that is only done by the ‘smart kids’ and the goal of MathMoms is to make these parents see that their kids can also become one of the smart kids. All it takes is to realise that maths is everywhere and it can be exciting. Even cutting the patotoes into quarters can be an opportunity to teach their kids about maths.

In communities with the constant threat of gang violence and poverty, it is hard for the kids to concentrate. In these environments, it is more often than not the mom that stands between their kids succeeding or getting involved with negative influences. A mom that knows how to help their kids with maths is a priceless treasure, and thanks to the Math Moms of the Cape Flats, we might have just struck gold.

If you want to find out more about the MathMom project, then check out their website at

Source(s): (edited from an article by Avril Fillies), other

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