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Students in South Africa work at their desks

JumpStart improves math learning for children in South Africa

Project overview

When children are unable to master the basics in the earlier stages of their education, they’re rarely able to catch up in later grades. But getting every student up to speed at the start is difficult in some classrooms in South Africa, where the student-teacher ratio is 60:1. Math is a particular area of concern, with six out of ten grade five learners in South Africa unable to do basic math.

Our partnership with JumpStart Foundation aims to provide students and teachers with greater support from the earliest grade levels, so students can continue to thrive throughout their education and beyond.


It is so stressful, even at home I don’t get time to rest because I’m thinking about these learners that I’m leaving behind when I’m in my class because of lack of resources.

Funeka Phakade, Teacher at Ukhanyiso Primary School

How it helps

Funeka Phakade is one of many teachers in South Africa who struggle daily with providing the tools, technology, and time necessary to properly instruct her students. Due to classroom overcrowding, it isn’t feasible for Funeka to give the one-on-one instruction her students often need in important subjects like math. Providing resources for teachers like Funeka is a key part of our work to support classrooms around the world. Through our partnership with the JumpStart Foundation, interns provide support for teachers and students in classrooms across South Africa.

Trained in the most effective ways to communicate with children and attend to their needs, these tech-savvy, highly energetic interns come directly from the communities they serve. Their shared experiences help students feel more at ease, allowing interns to act as a vital bridge between teachers and learners approaching new math concepts.

Quality technology tools are also put in place in each classroom, enabling learners to progress at their own pace and allowing the interns to help teachers understand how the class is progressing through the curriculum. The program not only gives students one-on-one, quality math instruction, but also builds a strong foundation in numbers they will use throughout their education. As Funeka says, “They can now become math lovers.”

The intern presence in the classroom has had a strong impact on Funeka’s class and additional classrooms throughout the country. Not only do the interns and teachers observe the students growing, but schools are now seeing improvement in the quality of their education and performance, too.

Foundation Project Lead