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This paper looks at mathematics and its relevance in schools from the perspective of students' interests. It starts by discussing briefly the importance of paying attention to cultural and social relevance, and then it focuses on students' interests as one of the aspects of relevance. Findings are presented from a survey conducted in Malawi with 346 secondary school students. The study explored what students would find interesting to learn as contexts in school mathematics by indicating...

The paper discusses findings of a study that investigated Malawian students' meanings for some probability vocabulary. The study explores the meanings that, prior to instruction, students assign to some words that are commonly used in teaching probability. The aim is to have some insight into the meanings that students bring to the classroom. The sample for the study consisted of 154 students in their first year of secondary school education and whose first language was Chichewa. The paper...

In this paper, I discuss Universal Basic Education (UBE) in relation to the teaching and learning of mathematics in Southern Africa. I present the status of UBE for all countries in the region and then use 3 selected examples: Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia, to illustrate the provision of mathematics in the general framework of UBE in the countries. I draw from results of SACMEQ evaluations to compare the 3 countries’ quality of primary education and also the mathematical achievement of...

This paper reports on findings from a study that investigated reasons Malawian students have for preferring particular contexts in mathematics. The study explored students’ preferences of contexts using a survey questionnaire that contained 27 contexts and asked students to indicate their level of interest for each context on a 4point scale and to write down reasons for their most preferred contexts. There were 393 students of 1420 years old. Findings include that most preferred contexts...

Many countries in Africa have mother tongue policies which require learners to be taught in their mother tongue for at least some years of primary education. This paper discusses the implementation of such policies in relation to mathematics terminology in the teaching and learning of mathematics. I present and discuss two strategies of dealing with mathematical terminology when teaching in the mother tongue: the strategy of developing mathematics registers in the local languages and the...

The paper discusses the meanings that Malawian students attach to the word ‘fair’ in the context of probability games. The aim was to have some insight into the meanings that students bring to the classroom. In Malawi, English is the school language but not the students' first language. The sample consisted of forty students in their first year of secondary school whose first language was Chichewa. Their ages ranged from 13 to16 years. Data were collected through group discussions after...

In this this article we discuss findings from an investigation of whether female student teachers would choose to study mathematics if it were optional for primary teacher education in Malawi. A mixed methods research methodology was used to collect data through survey and focus group discussions (FGDs). Five hundred and twenty three female students from 6 public teacher education colleges completed a questionnaire, and 160 of them participated in FGDs. A descriptive statistical analysis was...

In their description of the mathematical work of teaching, Ball, Bass & Hill (2004) describe the mathematical problem solving that teachers do as they go about their work. In this paper we add to this description through our study of teaching of probability in a grade 8 multilingual classroom in South Africa. We use instances of teaching to highlight the mathematical problem solving that teachers might face as they work with learners’ ideas, both expected and unexpected. We discuss the...

In this chapter we discuss professional growth of mathematics teacher educators through collaboration that was triggered by a professional development (PD) programme. Mathematics teacher educators at all eight public primary teacher training colleges in Malawi participated in the PD which ran from May 2016 to November 2018. In May and November two to three teacher colleges came together for a workshop, and in between, they conducted lesson studies at their colleges with guidance from the...

We r eport on two c ase s tudies in whi ch we investigated m athematics for tea ching. We were interested in the mathematical k nowledge teachers need to know, and know how to use, in order to teach mathematics well. The two case studies focused on t he t eaching of pr obability in Gr ade 8 a nd t he t eaching of functions in Grade 10. We discuss the mathematics for teaching probability and functions in terms of the mathematical 'problem solving' or 'mathematical work' demanded of the...

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to better understand the challenges involved in introducing Lesson Study (LS) into teacher education in Malawi by studying mathematics teacher educators’ (TEs’) understanding of planning for LS. Design/methodology/approach This study is a part of a wider ongoing project designed to improve the quality and capacity of mathematics teacher education in Malawi. One of its components is professional development of all mathematics TEs in Malawi using an LS...

We discuss the adaptation and piloting of the previously developed U.S.specific measures of mathematical knowledge for teaching to the Malawi context. The purpose is to produce measures that can be used to evaluate changes in mathematical knowledge for teaching gained through primary teacher education, thus informing teacher educators on the most effective evidencebased practices. By interviewing 14 teachers, we first examine whether the 16 recurrent mathematical tasks of teaching tasks...

Purpose The aim of the study is to better understand how lesson study (LS) contributes to challenging teachers' views of mathematics teaching and learning. Design/methodology/approach This study is part of a wider ongoing project aiming at improving primary mathematics teaching in Malawi through professional development (PD) of teachers using a LS model. The units being analyzed are teachers' written reflections and lesson plans. The analytical approach is qualitative content...

In this paper we discuss findings of a study that investigated the resources and language that teachers in Malawi use to teach the concept of zero. In Malawi primary schools, textual resources available to teachers are mainly the curriculum materials in the form of syllabus, teacher guides and learner textbooks. The syllabus and teacher guides are in English while the learner textbooks are in Chichewa as teaching is in Chichewa or other local language in the first 4 years of primary school....

There is a global recognition of the importance of the quality of teachers for the quality of education in schools and, whilst there is less unanimity about exactly how and where student teachers should be educated, there is consensus around the importance of the professional learning which takes place during the practicum or teaching practice. In this article, such learning is viewed through the lens of Lave and Wenger’s conception of ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ and, using...