The impact of CASME support to schools to improve results in mathematics at Umlazi District, KZN province in South Africa.
Mathematics education has become a centre of attention in the Republic of South Africa (SA), with all phases of formal schooling performing poorly in all international and local assessments in the recent past. This led to a moratorium in international assessments participation called for by the then Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, in 2011. This then made mathematics education a concern for every South African. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have projected themselves as having solutions to this challenge of poor performance in mathematics by South African pupils across all phases. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of one such NGO, the Centre for Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME). CASME is 29 years old to date and rolls out a number of projects funded by various corporations with vested interest in education in the hope of improving mathematics achievements in SA. This study seeks to investigate whether CASME makes a difference or not. The study was conducted in the Umlazi District of the KZN DBE. A quantitative research method was used in the study and the participants were CASME, Umlazi District Officials, Principals or Deputy Principals of previous and current CASME project schools, and mathematics teachers and School Governing Body members of previous and current CASME project schools. A sample of 20 primary and 20 high schools was selected using stratified sampling. A questionnaire was distributed to a total of 200 respondents and 164 were completed and returned. The research found that CASME impacted positively on mathematics teachers at CASME project schools of Umlazi District. There was sufficient consensus from the stakeholders that they all noticed positive teacher behaviour and good practices after project mathematics teachers had undergone various intervention programmes rolled out by CASME. The results of this study challenge established research institutions to undertake more studies on the work of NGOs in order to highlight their contribution to the societal issue of poor performance in mathematics by South African pupils. Although CASME was applauded for its work with mathematics teachers in its projects, it remains a fact that the targeted district of this study has challenges of underperformance in mathematics. This means that more still has to be done to help the situation and to assist the Government of the Republic of SA to accomplish some of its goals in the Schooling 2025.