Overview . . .

MALATI was commissioned by the Education Initiative of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa in June 1996 as a three-year project with the brief:

. . . to work independently, complementary to government curriculum development, seeking to develop, pilot and spread alternative approaches and tools for teaching and learning mathematics.

MALATI itself later added:

and at the same time, to make a direct contribution to Curriculum 2005, e.g. by developing materials as interpretations of Curriculum 2005 and making these available to LACs and publishers for maximum immediate impact.

MALATI is a co-operative project of mathematics educators at the Universities of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch and Cape Town (the University Reference Group). MALATI is managed by a Management Committee consisting of Jane Coombe (MEP, UCT), Cyril Julie (REMESA, UWC), Piet Human (RUMEUS, US), Alwyn Olivier (US, Director) and Fatima Adam (Director of the Open Society Education Initiative).

MALATI set up offices in Bellville in January 1997 with a full-time staff of 12 and part-time involvement of as many university mathematics educators.


MALATI philosophy

The MALATI University Reference Group developed an initial vision document as a basis for MALATI's work. This grew into a philosophy which underlies MALATI's work and creates the context in which the materials can be used successfully. The main features of this philosophy are:

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Curriculum development

MALATI identified the crucial domains of school mathematics as Fractions, Algebra, Datahandling and Probability, Geometry and Introductory Calculus. We organised ourselves into Working Groups on each of these topics, and re-conceptualised each of these content areas through a study of available research, a re-think of appropriate objectives, possible teaching and assessment approaches and an analysis of available materials. Where there was insufficient available research, we did the research ourselves, e.g. we have investigated the development of children's understanding of fractions in the primary school, and their ability to generalise as a basis on which we designed and tested our fraction and algebra materials. Learner activities have thus been developed based on what we know about how children learn these topics, and were updated in the light of experiences of project workers and teachers in the project schools and inputs from other interested parties.

The MALATI packages of materials for these five content areas consist of rationale documents, learner activities and accompanying teacher notes reflecting the MALATI approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics in general and the content area in paricular. These packages are designed to cater for the following grades:

Fractions: Grades 3 to 8
Algebra: Grades 6 to 9
Geometry: Grades 4 to 9
Data Handling and Probability: Grades 5 to 10
Introductory Calculus: Grades 10 to 12.

The MALATI materials have been trialled in seven project schools in the Western Cape in co-operation with the Western Cape Education Department and eight schools in the Northern Province in co-operation with the Mathematics, Science Technology Education College (MASTEC). The trialling process involved observing the use of the materials as well as intensive teacher support in the form of workshops, classroom visits and regular scheduled discussion periods. The packages were continuously revised in the light of the experiences in these schools.

Note: All the materials developed by MALATI are in the public domain. They may be freely used and adapted, with acknowledgement to MALATI and the Open Society Foundation for South Africa.

To order print copies of the MALATI materials or the MALATI CD, click here

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Teacher development

We have developed a strategy of teacher development based on:

MALATI has structured itself into a co-ordinator for each project school in the Western Cape. The co-ordinator regularly visited the school and classrooms and co-ordinates MALATI activities in the school, e.g. arranging for "experts" from our Working Groups to present workshops on that content area, or to give additional classroom support when that specific content area was handled in class. Co-ordinators met all the mathematics teachers in their school on a weekly basis, apart from individual classroom visits and support.

Throughout these activities we did not follow a deficit-model, but rather tried to create an atmosphere of co-operation and partnership, to reflect together on our most basic assumptions about the nature of mathematics, of learning mathematics and of teaching mathematics.


Evaluation research

MALATI decided that the most worthwhile general research would be to investigate, document and analyse classroom culture and changes in the classroom culture over time. We have investigating three areas:

1. Changes in teachers' classroom practices

2. Changes in teachers' beliefs

3. Changes in students' achievement

and relationships between these areas.

We have developed research tools for each of these areas, have collected and analysed base-line data for each area, and have followed changes in each area through ongoing classroom observations, discussions, interviews, questionnaires and tests.

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Dissemination of products

MALATI completed its task in December 1999 and we are sharing the products of our work with the mathematics education community through:

To order print copies of the MALATI materials or the MALATI CD, click here.

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