Updated Jul 04, 2018

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Rutindo Schools: Maths + Culture

A math education curriculum that uses cultural artifacts and local objects to demystify and reinforce the importance of math to disadvantaged children.

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Andrew Amara

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Stage 2: Research & Development

We are engaging various stakeholders (teachers and teacher-trainings, children and parents) in moulding a new teaching methods that utilise culture to explain mathematics topics in class. This is in the development stage.

Focus Areas:

Education, Gender Equity and Refugees

Education, Gender Equity and RefugeesSEE LESS

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In rural East Africa, Maths is traditionally viewed as a "hard, difficult and elitist" subject.The complex concepts and theories of maths, mean that the slow learners or the disadvantaged (many times the disabled, girls, and children in poverty or war-torn area) struggle to understand the subject. Furthermore girls are at times distracted from concentration by home chores, family obligations etc. Over the years, girls in rural schools have come to distance themselves from the subject.

Target Beneficiaries

Currently Rutindo is teaching 200 children in North West Uganda. Many factors have hampered education in Pakanyi area, Miirya sub-county, Masindi district. One major factor is poor numeracy and literacy skills among primary school children. These are children from mainly peasant families which earn less than 1 dollars a day, usually from farming. Most children are between the ages of 3 to 16. Girls account for 40%.Projections:We plan to expand the program to reach 500 more children, classified in age brackets for grouped lessons. We will have a special remedial class for girls to encourage participation. The target is girls from disadvantaged homes; homes that are poverty stricken, warn-torn, displaced, in drought. Northern Uganda has seen an influx of distraught families fleeing the insecurity in South Sudan. This is in addition to the already existing struggling families who were displaced and destabilised by the brutal 20-year long civil conflict in Northern Uganda.

Mission and Vision

IMPACT: Improve the maths competence of 2,500 children in 50 schools across Uganda, while equipping 200 teachers with new skills-set for interactive, culture-based curriculum through our program by 2021.QUESTION: How do we scale the program to multiple schools in East Africa region, while maintaining the quality of the curriculum, and robustness of the interactive model? How do we modularise the lesson plans in formats where we do not spend alot of time to customise it in different regions?

Innovation Description

Even if they are not going to school, children in rural East Africa make cultural artefacts. Many of these cultural artefacts are intrinsically very mathematical. Examples of crafts and trades include:- Hair Braiding- Making Mats - Weaving baskets - Knitting Table clothes- Making dolls, balls- Cultural danceJanet Kaahwa, PhD (Director, Rutindo School) has done extensive research on girls and maths, popularisation of maths, and maths in culture, in Uganda.Background:Numbers, counting and maths is a part of life, and without this basic knowledge, a child will go through life at a disadvantage. In urban areas children start gaining these skills at the ages 4, 5, and 6, unlike those in emergency settings. Even if a student from an emergency setting manages to make it through to secondary or university level, a majority fail to cope with new advanced maths and gain little academically. Many others are made to repeat classes for years. Some opt to drop out of school after a few years in school. Most do not even attempt maths. In communities affected by drought, displacement, conflict, etc, an easy and available approach to teaching numbers, counting and maths is to use culture; a free resource that surrounds us. These homes in emergency settings all have a bit of culture surrounding them. Rutindo Schools will ask parents and students to bring these artifacts to class. In the process the community is propagating both culture and maths. LOWCOST. SUSTAINABLE

Competitive Advantage

This approach uses already existing aids (culture is all around us). It is therefore a welcome route for families and communities to support heritage, preserve good traditions and strengthen culture. This encourages support from local leaders. It also builds a sense of ownership and a feeling of participation by the families. This in-turn makes the project sustainable.This approach is also a low-cost route because many artifacts are made from local and free resources. For example a ball from banana leaves, a mat from papyrus, braiding your own hair. Furthermore, there is the secondary benefit of passing on a skill or trade of craft making. This could turn build entrepreneurial ideas and opportunities in children.But perhaps the best advantage of culture is the simplicity and ease with which it illustrates particularly difficult maths / concepts: it makes maths a fun game, a joy, a basket, a hair piece, a clothe, a dance... (the child now realises why it is important).


May 2018
New Country Implemented In
Mar 2018
Mar 2018
Recognition ReceivedVERIFIED
Alliance Member