Making Maths Make Sense

OLICO’s Diepsloot Matrics beat the odds with an 82% Pure Maths Pass-rate

It is with great pride that OLICO announces our Diepsloot matrics achieved an 82% pass-rate for pure mathematics with two-thirds scoring in the Top 20% of maths performers nationally. Overall, OLICO learners achieved 55% Bachelor Level passes and 27% Diploma Level passes. 

The Diepsloot matric class of 2017 first joined OLICO in 2013 as Grade 8 learners seeking extra maths support. On first enrolment, these learners were approximately 3-4 years below their expected maths grade level (which coheres with Kotze and Spaull, 2015). In Grade 9, this group scored an average of just 24% on the 2014 Annual National Assessments (ANAs) for maths.

OLICO’s multi-year approach is to build core foundational skills and gradually deepen conceptual understanding over an extended period of time. OLICO’s matric class of 2017 dedicated significant proportions of their after-school lives, over many years, to improving their maths competencies.

OLICO’s Programme Coordinator, Andrew Barrett adds, “Given the realities of the schooling maths situation in South Africa, the time and support available during school hours is simply not sufficient to cover all that needs to be covered so OLICO’s after-school support and blended use of technology is one way in which we can supplement the work of the teacher.”

Ultimately, 82% of OLICO’s Diepsloot matric learners passed pure mathematics compared to only 19% of their Diepsloot peers.

Further to this, two-thirds of OLICO’s learners scored above 50% in pure mathematics which puts them into the top 20% of maths achievers across South Africa. 

This 2017 matric class in Diepsloot is part of a larger group of 155 learners between Grades 7-12 who receive extra maths support after-school 2-3 times a week. The improvements are the result of intensive work on number skills and supplementary curriculum support with OLICO’s freely available online maths tool and tailored tutoring support.

OLICO learner, Boledi Mampa believes OLICO made a huge difference to her maths results, “I joined OLICO 5 years ago and today I got my Bachelor Level matric certificate. It’s been great being part of OLICO as it’s helped me pursue my dream which is to study Environmental Science at the University of Johannesburg this year.”

Likewise, her classmates Lebogang Mafa and Mokgadi Morwasehla believe OLICO has helped them unlock their potential and achieve her goals. Says Lebogang,

My maths was poor when I first joined but by practicing with OLICO’s support, my results have really improved. I want to start a new life at university where I’m looking to pursue a BSC degree.


Intervening Early.

There is no quick-fix or simple solution to improving South African maths results but there are clear indications that intensive multi-year support in an after-school setting can achieve substantial improvements. At OLICO, we use a custom-built online maths programme ( with our Grade 7-9 learners alongside skilled maths tutors to supplement learning. This online maths tool is published under a creative commons licence and contains over 22,000+ unique interactive maths questions and 330 tutorial videos specifically tailored for South African senior phase maths. The belief is that establishing firm foundations and good number sense is essential for future maths success.

The South African Education challenge

Some excellent articles on the maths situation in South Africa:

Nicky Roberts:

Paul Berkowitz: 

Nic Spaull:

Beyond Diepsloot

In addition to the 155 Grade 7-12 learners in Diepsloot,  OLICO is also working in 5 schools in the Western Cape on the Year Beyond programme and has over 5000 learners enrolled on the FREE online maths program for Grades 7-9 at OLICO is also working on a younger intervention through Maths Clubs in collaboration with the SA numeracy Chair Project at Rhodes University and the Maths Clubs Collective (

With grateful thank to our supporters:

OLICO is deeply grateful to our donor partners who have helped make this happen. including: The Datatec Education and Technology Trust, The Learning Trust, Hatch, The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, The Claude Leon Foundation and the Nedbank Private Wealth Educational Foundation.

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