Sharanjeet Shan

Maths Centre
South Africa

Maths Centre’s objective is to equip teachers, learners and parents with learning materials and programmes to further develop their competency and performance in math, science and technology curriculums in South Africa.

Focus: Education
Geographic Area of Impact: South Africa
Model: Hybrid non-profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 23,457 (2014)
Annual Budget: USD $5 million (2014)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 14% (2014)

The Social Problem
South Africa's education system is in poor shape. Rhe World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2014-15) has ranked the quality of the education system 140th out of 144 countries and has placed the quality of math and science education in South Africa at the very last spot on the list. Out of 1.1 million learners who registered in grade 1 twelve years ago, only 11% passed exams in math and 9% passed in science in 2014, with 2-3% achieving Level 5-7. In addition, the schooling system displays high learners’ drop-out rates at more than half of students dropping out of school long before reaching grade 12.

Innovation and Activities
Maths Centre believes that teachers are key to solving the educational crisis. As such, it develops programmes to enhance their qualifications, competencies and professionalism in mathematics, science, and technology subjects while systematically monitoring learners’ progression. Math Centre also provides skills development programmes for in-school and out-of-school youth, and high quality and effective teaching and learning materials.

Maths Centre trainers are specialists in their specific subject and engage with principals, teachers and students through multiple projects. Projects consist of one or a combination of programs, advocacy campaigns and are directly sponsored by a specific donor. Programs target students and teachers alike, and aims to correct, restore and advance both groups by utilizing various tools and resources.

In 2014, Maths Centre had served 520 schools, with 174,695 math and physical science students, through a network of 4,268 educators. Notably, Maths Centre cohort learners have a 81% pass rate, a substantially lower percentage of learners achieving levels 2-4 (30%-50%), and a much higher percentage of learners achieving levels 5-7 (60%-100%), when compared to the national average. Over 30% of Maths Centre cohort learners achieve between levels 5-7 in math, while nationally only 13% of students achieved levels 5-7. As a whole, Maths Centre performance distribution is in line with developed nations.

The Entrepreneur
Born in India and educated in England, Sharanjeet has lived in South Africa for 20 years. An educationist at heart, she taught math and science for 19 years in England and rose through the ranks to various management positions, including that of an education inspector. She was invited to lead Maths Centre in 1995, transforming a small and struggling project into the current widely respected institution. She holds an MA in social sciences, and she is continuing her own education by studying quantum physics.