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As COVID-19 forced distance learning on schools across the country, a maths and science learning-support app developed by Nelson Mandela University’s Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre has been providing critical support for learners in every province.

The free and downloadable phone app – called MobiTutorZA – provides CAPS curriculum-linked content for Grade 8 to 12 learners, in the form of self-tests, practice exam papers, and content explanations in eight different languages. It also includes the MobiMatric revision programme, which prepares Grade 12 learners for a mock exam in preparation for their finals.

The app has also become the hub of three national competitions run annually by GMMDC, including a mathematics competition where learners compete over two rounds, a year-long “leaderboard” competition where learners complete monthly tasks, and a financial mathematics competition, where learners tackle maths problems that have a financial component.  

The winners of all three competitions, which were sponsored this year by the Capitec Foundation, received prizes worth R30,000 at a recent prizegiving function, which learners could attend in person or via Zoom.

“We are trying to use technology and specifically, our MobiTutorZA app, to advance the problem solving-skills of learners, and to support their learning, particularly over distance as this is becoming more and more important,” said GMMDC director Prof Werner Olivier, addressing teachers, parents and learners at the prizegiving.

The app is being used by more than 3,000 learners, with over 400 entering the competitions – but GMMDC is working hard to reach thousands more, particularly targeting learners from under-resourced schools, where the need for support is greatest.

“The app also allows teachers to set up their own unique tests for learners to complete over distance.  There is a lot of scope,” said Olivier.

GMMDC’s Dr Phil Collett, who coordinated the competitions, said the app provided learners with the opportunity to practise maths and science. “Practice is an important component of building competence. The app gives learners the opportunity to practice a range of skills, from the most basic to the most challenging problem-solving-type skills, allowing them to really get to know mathematics or science in a range of different ways, which is necessary for success.”

Winners in the three competitions came from across South Africa. In the MobiTutorZA maths competition, the first-placed winners were Eugh Schoeman from Langenhoven Gymnasium in Oudtshoorn (Grade 8 and 9 category), Emily Hawkes from Pretoria Girls’ High (Grade 10 category), and  Chase de Doncker from Alexander Road High (Grade 11 and 12 category).

In the MobiTutorZA leaderboard competition, winners were Ashil Seejarim from Shree Bharat Sharda Mandir (SBSM) Private School in Lenasia, Gauteng (Grade 8), Bianca van der Walt from La Rochelle Girls’ High School in Paarl (Grade 9), Jorge Stickells from Grey High (Grade 10), Evagelos Batsis from Alexander Road High (Grade 11), and Bunono Ngcwembe from Ndzondelelo High School in Zwide (Grade 12).

In the Capitec financial maths competition, tying for first spot in the Grade 8 and 9 category were Hannah du Plessis from Pearson High, Christiaan de Wet from Bonnievale High and Heeral Naram from SBSM. The Grade 10 and 11 category winner was Jaedon Naidu from Eden College in Durban, with four learners tied for first spot in the Grade 12 category, Chase de Doncker from Alexander Road High, Nasreen Chohan from Maritzburg Muslim School for Girls, and Shuaib Nuruddin and Abdul Qadir Omar, both from Al-Asr Education Institute in Centurion, Gauteng. 

The school with the most participants was Khanyisa Education Centre in Giyani Limpopo, while the school with the best achievements across the three competitions was Grey High.

The MobiTutorZA app and the various competitions linked to it are part of a much broader  predominantly-offline programme run by GMMDC, which focuses on using techno-blended learning, which is a mix of technology-based and traditional learning, to improve the results of maths and science learners, so that more learners can access university. 

This programme includes a hybrid online-offline technology-assisted Incubator School Programme (ISP) for learners as well as an accredited Professional Learning Network (PLN) programme to advance the skills of in-service teachers. The assessment components of these programmes are also included on the MobiTutorZA app.

For more information about the MobiTutorZA competitions and MobiMatric revision programme, go to the MobiTutorZA Facebook page:

MATHS CHAMPS: Placed first and second in the Grade 11 category of the MobiTutorZA leaderboard competition, run by Nelson Mandela University, were (right) Evagelos Batsis from Alexander Road High School and Mava Feni from Ethembeni Enrichment Centre. Picture: Michael Sheehan

Contact information
Prof Werner Olivier
Director of GMMDC
Tel: 27 41 504 4743