WhatsApp Maths Hotline — A winning formula for pupils

A WhatsApp Maths Hotline, established by renowned education non-profit OLICO Maths Education, is adding significant value to pupils.

By simply sending a WhatsApp message to 0600 39 00 00, a pupil is granted direct access to a trained maths tutor for grades seven to 10, thousands of maths worksheets and tutorial videos, as well as automated lesson pathways on key maths concepts.

Initially created as a means of staying connected to schoolchildren during the hard lockdown in 2020, the platform has subsequently proved to be the perfect formula for improved mathematics results.

Thanks to OLICO, with the backing of the Datatec Education and Technology Foundation, more than 15 700 South African children have accessed the hotline this year alone.

OLICO co-founder and executive director, Andrew Barrett, said while the service is available nationally, the organisation has been working especially closely with district officials and rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal’s Amajuba District to optimise its use.

When Grade 9 pupils in our KZN partner schools started algebra in the second term this year, they were also instructed to participate in an ‘algebra challenge’ on WhatsApp when they were at home. The algebra challenge mirrored what the teachers were doing in class and provided an opportunity to reinforce the prior content knowledge of pupils.

“When pupils got stuck on the challenge, they could ask to speak to a human tutor, who could then diagnose the issue and guide the learner towards a deeper understanding. This is just one example of the kind of impact the hotline is making in the province.”

Syanda Phakathi, a Grade 9 pupil at Bethamoya Senior Secondary School in Newcastle, believes any child using the service will see an immediate improvement in results.

The hotline stands as a unique offering in that there is no other solution like it for low-income communities in South Africa.

“The intention is not a ‘drop-and-run’ or once-off solution. It is a consistent support system for pupils as they move through their maths backlogs and grade-level curriculums,” Barrett added.

This article was first published by The Witness.

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