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Project information

Training maths teachers to beat poverty in Africa

To give more young Africans from the most disadvantaged communities better opportunities in life, a good education and help to develop 21st century skills and competences, AIMSSEC trains mathematics teachers and gives them continuing support and free resources to run workshops for other teachers.

May 2018 - May 2019

Charity information: African Institute for Mathematical Sciences - Next Einstein Initiative - Foundation, UK

African Institute for Mathematical Sciences - Next Einstein Initiative - Foundation, UK logo
  • Need


    Many African teachers lack the necessary knowledge, pedagogical skills and resources to change their teaching style from emphasis on memorising facts to student-centred learning to foster the skills needed in the modern world. The objective of our intervention is to train and inspire primary and secondary mathematics teachers, to improve their subject knowledge and didactical skills and give them continuing support and resources so they can raise educational standards in their own communities.


    AIMSSEC changes the professional lives of underqualified teachers by residential courses in school holidays, distance learning and communication with tutors around the world. We created a smart phone app to give constant support and to enable teachers to download our entire free resource collection to use offline. AIMSSEC has a 15-year track record and won the UNESCO Hamdan prize in 2012 for outstanding practice and performance in enhancing the effectiveness of teachers in developing countries.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To improve teaching quality, conceptual understanding & mathematical & pedagogical knowledge.


    » Train 150 teachers on our 3-month Mathematical Thinking Course followed by 6 courses over a 2-year period addressing major challenges in education.
    » Train groups of teachers from across Africa to adopt an inquiry-based learning style to foster skills and competencies needed in the modern world.
    » Train teachers and subject advisers on key content areas to run professional development workshops for other teachers in their own communities.

    What success will look like

    Teachers must pass all written tests and assignments and provide evidence of improvements in their teaching practice.

    Aim 2

    Provide teaching resources via the AIMING HIGH Teacher Network & App


    » Publish open source resources for inquiry-based lessons and professional development aligned to competence based 21st century curricula.
    » Provide ongoing support for teachers to help them improve education in their own communities through collaborative learning with other teachers.

    What success will look like

    Success judged by evidence of training workshops run by teachers for teachers with AIMSSEC resources, feedback on the workshops & resources, and website usage statistics.

    Aim 3

    Strengthen AIMSSEC's work sustainably through continued support from international academics


    » The large AIMSSEC international team will continue to develop and write resources remotely as well as teaching in Africa on a voluntary basis.

    What success will look like

    Annual reports will be published on the number of international experts and what they have contributed to AIMSSEC's work.

  • Impact


    AIMSSEC trains 200 teachers a year, continuing to help them so that they learn on the job and their current and future students benefit. Teachers develop skills to train other teachers, use technology and become life-long reflective practitioners through teacher-led workshops, IT training given by AIMSSEC and action research. AIMSSEC helps teachers to address language issues so they skilfully assist their students to use mathematical terminology correctly & fluently. Impact will be measured.


    AIMSSEC trains teachers from disadvantaged communities and must provide bursaries so that those teachers can attend the courses. AIMSSEC seeks funding every year, receives funding from government and other sponsors, and fills up places with teachers from richer schools who pay for the courses. An international team of over 40 mathematics education experts work without pay for AIMSSEC. AIMSSEC risks planning courses and not raising sufficient funds for the courses or to pay the staff.


    AIMSSEC publishes on its website quarterly reports of all its activities and numbers attending and passing courses. Audited accounts are published annually.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £100,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £52,500 Bursaries for 100 teachers MT Course (10-day residential + 3 months)
      £40,000 Bursaries for 100 teachers Second Course (7-day residential + 3 months)
      £7,500 Support for teachers Production of open source resources for all teachers in the AIMSSEC community.
  • Background


    AIMSSEC is based in the AIMS Higher Education Institute in Muizenberg, S. Africa from which we run the distance learning courses. We use boarding schools for our residential courses which provide classrooms, computer labs, sleeping accommodation and food. Lecturers and students share the same accommodation. Teachers from rural areas in S. Africa and other African countries attend our courses.


    The direct beneficiaries are the teachers who attend the courses, but when they return to their communities they influence their colleagues and their learners, not just in the first year, but in subsequent generations. This project will train teachers and subject advisers who work for local government so other teachers and many thousands of learners will benefit each year.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The courses are taught at a high level by an international team of unpaid maths education experts and a strong African local team including former AIMSSEC students. The courses have been run 35 times since 2003 for over 2000 students. There are 400 applicants on the waiting list. AIMSSEC graduates have reported record improvements in matriculation grades. Local government education departments have confidence in AIMSSEC and provide some funding but expect it to be matched by other donations.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Barrie Barnard

    Barrie has 32 years of mathematics teaching experience, 9 years' experience as AIMSSEC Academic Manager designing training course materials

    Mrs Toni Beardon

    Toni has 50 years experience, an OBE for services to Mathematics Education and founded AIMSSEC as a volunteer and Cambridge University NRICH Project.

    Dr. Lindiwe Tshuma

    Lindiwe is a primary mathematics and language specialist with experience as a teacher and education consultant in Zimbabwe and S. Africa.