What explains early numeracy achievement: A comparison of South Africa and China

Thukwane Nelisiwe, Ke Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Mathematics is pivotal in the contemporary technology-driven world. However, poor mathematical performance continues to be a concern in many countries. Guided by Mathematics in a Cultural Context (MCC) framework, this article investigates the similarities, differences, and potential reasons behind early numeracy achievement in South Africa and China. Applying a qualitative research approach, selected teachers, parents, and government officials in the two countries were interviewed for their views on the cultural context and pedagogical practices that potentially impact mathematics teaching and learning. The findings confirmed the multifaceted and interconnected nature of mathematics teaching and learning. However, the findings raise questions about the efficacy of certain practices on mathematics learning and achievement, including the teaching approach, the value of different kinds of motivations, and methods to inspire motivation. This finding suggests the importance of practicing key mathematics concepts in building a solid foundation and confidence in mathematics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-294
Number of pages18
JournalJournal on Mathematics Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • China
  • Early Numeracy
  • Mathematics Teaching and Learning
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Mathematics


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