In response to the on-going need for quality black African Mathematics teachers in South Africa, Hilton College started the Vula Mathematics Project in 2007. The targets Mathematics teachers in under-resourced schools in the KwaZulu-Natal province, with a particular focus on the uMgungundlovu district, as well as provincial subject advisers. In 2014 the Vula Mathematics Academy (VuMA) was initiated, which is an eleven week on-site in-service training course for Mathematics teachers from rural and township schools.
The Vula Programme at Hilton College also has a component that offers Physical Science support for teachers and learners. This evaluation will specifically focus on the process and impact of the Vula Mathematics Academy.
Although South Africa has been a fully democratic society for more than 23 years, there remain enormous inequalities in the provision of education, and the majority of black South Africans in particular find it difficult to access quality education at all levels of the education system. The resulting performance of black learners is especially weak in Mathematics: the 2016 national matriculation results show that, of the 33 511 students who scored more than 60% for maths, only 1 700 (5%) were black African students. Given that black Africans make up 80.7% of the South African population1, this percentage of quality passes is extremely low. Equal Education, a movement that works to address social injustice in education, has commented that closer attention needs to be paid to inequality and historical legacies and their impact2. According to their 2016 annual report, “despite efforts to improve the system, class and race-linked inequalities persist. … unequal educational opportunities remain among the greatest obstacles to equality, dignity and freedom in South Africa.”
A large contributing factor to the underperformance in Mathematics is the low number of qualified teachers in rural and peri-.‐urban schools. The 2007 set of teacher assessments done by SACMEQ (Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality) showed that only 32% of Grade 6 Mathematics teachers in South Africa had the required subject knowledge in Mathematics, compared with considerably higher percentages in other countries such as Kenya (90%), Zimbabwe (76%) and Swaziland (55%). Another study done with a sample of 253 matric Mathematics teachers from KwaZulu-.‐Natal found that their average mark for a past matric Mathematics examination paper was just 57%.