About Us


Creating a safe space where children come to learn maths and leave having learned much more. To accompany the women on a journey of self discoverty in which they get to know their own gifts and strenghs so that they can take the next step into the future.


Learner by learner, school by school, community by community, we will improve maths results, resulting in an improved economy.


We will employ the nurturing  power of motherly love to find and empower:

- Retired teachers who love maths to be mentors.

- Mothers who create a safe place where children can become confident in maths and much more.

- Educators with whom to collaborate.

- Friends who will support our efforts.

Our greater good



MathMoms Is a women’s initiative, powered by motherly love that builds confident communities – one maths empowered child at a time.  The purpose of MathMoms is to contribute to quality education, with the focus on maths, for foundation phase learners in previously disadvantaged schools.

It is not only the learners who benefit from the programme. The MathMoms and the mentors receive training to prepare them for the classroom, not only to teach mathematics but also to support the learners and each other. They have training sessions on topics as diverse as parenting, life skills, understanding children’s behaviour, personal branding, first aid, understanding and dealing with trauma, and working with traumatised children.

What we do

The MathMom is mentored to tutor foundation phase learners in basic math skills. She works with 2 learners at a time, during school hours, working with four learners per day. Children in her neighborhood also receive guidance from her. She is required to tutor at least 4 children at home with maths and homework.
The MathMom is also required to make herself available to assist in schools in other ways. She is equipped in various ways to build meaningful relationships in the classroom as well as in the community. We invest in her personal growth to enable her to become a role model for the learner and in the community. We aim at building relationships among the MathMoms within which they can experience belonging and mutual support.


MATH MOMS and the ISACA South Africa Chapter

We supported Math Moms in arranging a trip for a group of English & Afrikaans Grade 4 learners from Valhalla Primary School to visit the CTSC

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MathMoms: Cultivating Courage

As a group we sought solutions to the unique problems the pandemic and the lockdown created in our communities, acting for change instead of only reacting to disaster. This is what we did so far!

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MathMoms Covid-19 Response - Cultivating Courage

Every parent is their child's first teacher because we care about our children and hold them as our highest joys. In this strange time we look back with pride and gratitude for everyone who worked hard to make their communities safer places.

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The MathMoms are mentored in every step of the way by retired teachers who are strong and enthusiastic individuals. Our Mentors do not merely want to improve the teaching of maths, they also want to improve parental involvement in schools because we believe that strong communities build strong schools.

In the past year our programme was extended to grade 2 and 4.  For 2020 we have great plans for gr 4, 5 and 6.  Our intention is to build strong, resilient and safe connections so that the learners can become self-confident and their parents become positively involved in their education and be part of a school community where everyone can excel. 

In addition to the grade programmes, they  also commit themselves to the following:


- MathMoms TRE training: Trauma Release Exercises equips our volunteers and staff to deal with the effects of trauma in their own life and of working in wounded communities. It also enables them to help other members of these communities in dealing with their own trauma. This provides them with a life-long tool for handling the effects of trauma, and is of great benefit for their emotional health


- They are given exciting  opportunities for further training and growth: Project Management, First Aid, basic financial principles, life skill courses, parenting courses, outings to interesting places they have never visited. Confidence building exercises, like photo shoots with professional photographers. https://www.facebook.com/mathmoms/videos/2349901811904002/    




- The MathMoms share what they do with the broader community through giving talks at events and conferences, as well as radio appearances and magazine or newspaper interviews. This allows them to tell their own stories, while also informing the community of what they do and the positive impact this has on the community. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwZvtPISXd 



This has been our approach for our whole programme. The newest part of this programme is our work with Grade 2 learners. In the Grade 2 programme we use innovative teaching methods. We teach mathematics as a language through practical participation in activities, as well as the performance of different tasks in everyday situations.

The lessons create new opportunities and flexible approaches to defining and solving mathematical problems. Practical activities help the learners to be more involved and alert to their environment. Thus, they understand better, because they are actively involved in die learning process.

The teaching of concepts and activities reinforce and integrate mathematical understanding and mathematics as a language, which is necessary for advanced mathematical problem solving.


What is the evidence on which their work is based?

The driving ideas behind the MathMoms programme are attachment, resilience, and safe spaces. Through an approach informed by attachment theory, the MathMoms teach learners (and themselves) to be resilient, while also creating a space where the child feels secure, recognised, respected, and within which they can thrive.

Attachment theory was developed in the late 1960 by John Bowlby. Bowlby believes that humans have a genetic predisposition to form attachments as a means of survival. It is for this reason that infants and young children seek proximity to their caregivers – the child is seeking security and protection. The caregiver’s response to the child’s proximity has a deep impact on the child’s development. A positive and welcoming response breeds trust, strengthens the relationship, and makes the child feel as if they have a safety net to fall back on in times of need. Where the reaction is negative or negligent, the opposite – feelings of insecurity and anxiety – is the case.

It is important to note that a child’s future is not completely determined by how he/she experiences attachment as infants. Other factors and positive experiences with caring adults later in life can also have an influence. The MathMoms aim to provide these “positive experiences”. In recognising the importance of forming attachments, the MathMoms provide care and attention that the children may not necessarily find at home or in the classroom. A secure and trusting relationship between a care-giver (or caring adult) and a child increases the child’s social competence.





How did the project come about.

Beginning in 2014 Sonja Cilliers, in cooperation with the Chief Education Specialist of Metro North had more than 3000 interventions with learners, teachers and (since 2016) parents. The learners were traumatized by violence, deaths, as well as by feelings of not fitting in and being marginalized.

In the process she came to know:

- the sometimes unthinkable levels of trauma in some learners’ lives (due to experiences such as rape, or the murder of a beloved);

- the strength and resilience of some of the parents;

- the real desire of parent or care givers to help the learners;

- the low level of positive parental involvement in schools;

- the reality of a considerable number of teachers being traumatised themselves, because of the demands made on them well as the challenging behaviour of many learners;

- the lack many learners have of truly healthy relationships with trustworthy adults;

- the negative influence the learners’ desire to fit in has on their choices;

- and the possibility that the learners’ desire for acceptance can be used as a positive influence on their choices.

From all this grew the realisation that the people of the community hold the keys to success, their own and that of the learners, in their own hands. They only need the opportunity to discover their own potential. The keys must be left in their hands, because only they can unlock the door to safe communities. These women become “lighthouses” in the community, because traumatised learners know they have somebody they can go to.

Which social problem(s) are you addressing through this innovation?

The following problem(s) are among those addressed:

- Poor mathematical skills of foundation phase learners in underprivileged schools

- Trauma in communities due to crime, gang violence, and unemployment

- Lack of an emotional and physical safe environment in which learners and adults can develop and grow

- Unemployment and financial instability of school parents

- Poor parent involvement in school activities

- Overworked and stressed teachers

- Lack of income and opportunity for women in the community

- Women who, for various reasons, where unable to complete their schooling, receive the opportunity for further growth (we are working on the possibility of transforming our programme into a formal accredited vocational NQF5 Course).

- Giving people within traumatized communities healing and hope through TRE and skills development.

Support Success

Who benefit from our work:


- Parents - The confidence to be responsible parents.

- Retired teachers - Retired school teachers or mothers, that are respected and trusted community leaders. Willing to walk a road with MathMoms and their learners.

- Schools in these areas – Gain positive engagement from parents, we also provide learning resources.

- Teachers - Empowered to deliver results that exceed expectations.

- Library – we work together on projects and training and special events

- Communities - The confidence to move from hopelessness to pride.

- Donors - Giving visionary corporate citizens the opportunity to improve the economy through a conscious investment in education.

- Faith based organisations work together (Christians and Muslims)

The programme gives opportunity for restitution, addressing historical imbalances.

Success Stories


Maybe the Moms can answer this question the best:  https://mathmoms.co.za/our-stories/


How do they help solve the problem, and who benefits from their work?

The MathMoms improves the mathematical skills of Grade 2 to  4 learners in underprivileged schools. The graphs below reflect the 2018  Maths results for the Grade 2 and Grade 3 learners.


The MathMoms provide a safe space for learners, where they experience emotional and physical security: 

https://www.facebook.com/mathmoms/videos/229519137596905/ Through the programme, previously unemployed women are employed, trained and upskilled, thereby giving them more financial security, work experience, and further employment opportunities. They  see MathMoms as a programme, not a career opportunity and encourage the ladies to study further, look for jobs and enrich their lives in other ways as well.
Of the 36 MathMoms involved in the 2018 programme:

- 4 went to college to pursue further qualifications in education

- 4 obtained permanent employment

- 1 founded a crèche

- 7 became teaching assistants when not working in the MathMom programme

- and 29 will remain with the 2019 MathMoms programme


Of the 20 Interns involved in the 2018 programme:

- a lot of the ladies pursued further education

- 4 obtained permanent employment

 By employing school mothers, the level of parental involvement at the schools is increased
The MathMoms programme provide support and relief to teachers and school staff .

Feedback from schools:

“ The MathMoms have a very positive impact on our learners. Through the lessons, a love for mathematics is developed. Important mathematical concepts are transmitted and grasped. As Grade 3 educators, we collaborate closely with the MathMoms. We wish the MathMoms a prosperous 2019! ” – C. Heynes
The MathMoms:


- Provide reinforcement and consolidation [of basic mathematical concepts]

- Are helpful and creative in their approach

- Encourage the learners and improve their self-image

- Do valuable work.” – K. Williams

" The MathMoms are committed, and they light up the learners’ lives. The learners are excited when there’s a knock on the door and it’s ‘their’ MathMom.”  – R Cupido.

Professor Jonathan Jansen:  “ In more than three decades of work with the non-govermental sector, I have yet to find a project that so readily ticks all the boxes:  innovation, equity, creativity, progression, development and transforation.  That a mother with limited education can gain mathematics competences that enables her to teach children basic maths concepts in one of the most dangerous parts of the Cape Flats is the kind of inspiration our country so desperately needs. ”  June 2020