Using stones to achieve in mathematics


Numbers and letters can be very complex for primary school children. That is why it makes sense to teach very young children reading, writing and maths in a playful way. Rebecca demonstrates just how well this works: thanks to one of our projects in Mozambique, she now finds maths much easier.


Mutsékwa Primary School is located in the Maputo district, right in the middle of an agricultural zone. Because of this, many pupils have a long and often arduous journey to school. But Rebecca uses this as an opportunity to collect stones, branches and roots. The stones, for example, help her with her maths exercises in class. How?

Rebecca stands at the blackboard as the teacher Luis Manuel asks a math problem: thirteen minus six. Rebecca thinks about it. "Let's count together," Luis Manuel suggests and helps her to put the stones down one by one. The class counts out loud: "... eleven, twelve, thirteen." "And now we subtract six of them." Rebecca takes away six stones one by one, and the class counts aloud again. "To get the answer, we have to count the remaining stones: One, two, three..." And again all the children count along. "Seven! The answer is seven," Rebecca says happily and writes it on the board.


The teacher is thrilled with the method: "By using simple natural materials, we can cover several things at once: we tackle the lack of school materials, get the children very involved – by collecting materials on the way to school – and ultimately encourage them in learning maths, reading and writing". Luis Manuel learned methods such as these in an advanced training course as part of our project. He received instruction on child-centred teaching, how to prepare teaching and evaluation materials, and was taught about children's rights and how to raise awareness of them among his students.

Through these trainings, along with the training of school headmasters, the preparation of school development plans, the establishment of reading corners and libraries, and raising awareness of child protection in schools and communities, we have been able to improve the maths and language skills of students from 28 primary schools in five districts of Maputo. The project aims to ensure that more girls and boys graduate from school with basic literacy and numeracy skills – so that they can attend secondary school and be better prepared for the workforce.

The programme is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA.