Original Research

Concerns about the South African Mathematical Literacy curriculum arising from experience of materials development

Lynn Bowie, Vera Frith
Pythagoras | Issue 64 | a96 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v0i64.96 | © 2006 Lynn Bowie, Vera Frith | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 October 2006 | Published: 20 October 2006

About the author(s)

Lynn Bowie, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Vera Frith, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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In this paper we reflect on our experience of developing mathematical literacy material for the Further Education and Training (FET) band in South African schools, adult learners, university students and for participants in a youth development project. We use this experience to highlight some problems and concerns about the South African Mathematical Literacy curriculum for learners in the FET band and offer some cautions and suggestions. In particular we highlight the importance of the educational community in South Africa developing a shared understanding of what Mathematical Literacy is. We discuss the importance of distinguishing between Mathematics and Mathematical Literacy and of clarifying the role of Technology in Mathematical Literacy. We explore the difficulties and importance of a proper understanding of the contexts used to teach Mathematical Literacy and argue that more attention needs to be paid to the integration of Mathematical Literacy with other school subjects.  Finally we raise some of the issues that a common final assessment task might have on the learning and teaching of Mathematical Literacy.


Mathematical Literacy;


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