Teaching and learning mathematics: Insights from classrooms in East Africa

Document Type

Book Chapter


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


This chapter looks at issues of teaching and learning mathematics in under resourced classrooms in low-income, post-colonial East African countries. It provides insights into issues arising from externally driven pedagogic reforms introduced to promote learners’ active participation in mathematics classrooms without critical engagement with the wider socio-cultural norms within which the reform was introduced. The chapter further raises issues arising due to the language of instruction policies that mandated learning mathematics in English (language of the ex-colonisers), so that learners resorted to ‘safe talk’ and did not necessarily engage with mathematics. Finally, the chapter highlights issues for participation of boys and girls in mathematics due to traditional and stereotypical understanding of gender roles in society. The chapter ends with recommendations for policy and practice to improve teaching and learning in traditional mathematics classrooms in low-income countries.


Mathematics education in East Africa: Towards harmonization and enhancement of education quality