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Mathematics and Physical Sciences are subjects that develop learners' logical reasoning, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and provide opportunities in many avenues of future study. However, learners in sub-Saharan Africa fall well short in any international benchmarks that track learning outcomes in these subjects. Within the African context, the learners who perform the worst are from disadvantaged backgrounds, perpetuating the poverty cycle. 


The number of learners who leave school with a high-quality qualification in Mathematics or Physical Sciences is dismally low, and this has negative implications for building the developmental skills so desperately needed in Africa. If countries in Africa wish to fully participate in the fourth industrial revolution, improving educational outcomes in STEM-related subjects is critical. 

We are addressing the problem of poor outcomes in Mathematics and Physical Sciences in Africa in four ways:

  • The provision of high-quality textbooks that are free to use, download and print.

  • Enabling access to a world-class online practice platform that learners can use freely, to work through the concepts they need to master, in their own time and at the own pace.

  • The dissemination of in-depth data on learner performance to authorised stakeholders (e.g. national and provisional departments) in order to make data-driven decisions.

  • The provision of concrete links to post-school opportunities, linked via the use of our platform.

While Siyavula's roots aimed to alleviate the challenges found in the South African education system, the solution we now offer can be adapted and scaled to meet the needs of other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. 


The desperate need for textbooks in sub-Saharan Africa is well-documented, as are the challenges in textbook distribution.  A conviction that all learners should have access to the basic resources they needed for a quality education was the genesis for what became Siyavula. The first problem we wanted to solve was a way to rapidly and effectively provide affordable and high-quality textbooks that were truly accessible to as many learners as possible.


Textbooks provide only part of the solution. Most learners in sub-Saharan Africa study in overcrowded classrooms, with inadequate classroom instruction, and they receive limited support. As deliberate practice is essential to learning, particularly for STEM-related subjects, our challenge was also to provide a platform where learners could practise and master the content they needed to excel in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, in their own time, and at their own pace.


A lack of large-scale monitoring systems means that education officials in government departments are unable to monitor and evaluate performance data for learners, teachers and schools. Such monitoring systems provide valuable information for educational decision making and policies, and can be used for formative assessment, project management, and curriculum development. 


To meet the need for objective, meaningful data that can be used to improve decision-making, Siyavula's practice platform captures every interaction a learner or teacher has with our system. Visualising and interpreting usage provides unique insights, not only for an individual learner, but also for a class, school, province or country. We are also able to provide useful insights into issues around technology infrastructure and mobile penetration. 


Doing well in Mathematics and Physical Sciences at school provides learners with increased options for further study, particularly in STEM-related fields. However, career guidance is limited for many learners, finding post-school opportunities is not always easy, and the high cost of tertiary study provides another barrier to entry. This means that many learners don’t actually consider Mathematics and Physical Sciences as subjects that will unlock doors for them.

In order to align school achievement with tertiary opportunities, Siyavula has linked with partners who offer opportunities for career guidance, tertiary study, bursaries, internships, and even jobs. These opportunities can be linked to performance on Siyavula, reinforcing the link between persistence and tenacity, and good post-school options. 

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