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THE CHALLENGES OF INTEGRATING ICTS INTO THE MATHEMATICS CURRICULA IN THE SADC REGION: THE CASE OF BOTSWANA

Keywords: Botswana education , ICTs , mathematics curriculum , challenges , constructivism , computers.

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Abstract:

The assumption for this paper is that mathematics is a problematic area for teachers and learners alike in the SADC countries. It reflects the author’s efforts in embarking on finding ways to help teachers make the curriculum more engaging to promote students’ conceptual understanding emanating from mathematical processes ratherthan procedural knowledge. The paper reflects the author’s efforts to integrate ICTs, specifically computers, into the Botswana Mathematics Curriculum and the challenges thereof by reporting on how mathematics teachers who have acquired the skills of using computers in theMathematics curriculum are coping in schools. The work derives from action research where teacher-trainees (student-teachers) are exposed to a variety of strategies for using computers to teach mathematics and then followed up in the field to gauge the challenges they face when using the strategies.Three operational issues were conceptualized by the teachers as challenging in their endeavours to use ICTs to teach mathematics, namely limited access to resources, inadequate time allocated to mathematics and lack of administrative support. These factors were reportedly demoralizing teachers, making them lose confidence andfalling back on the traditional absolutist teaching strategies common in Botswana classrooms (Prophet, 1995; Tabulawa, 2002). Findings from several recent studies indicate that ICTs such as computers can playan important role in motivating young people and encouraging them to engage in learning, within and beyond the classroom. Botswana’s three-year junior and twoyear senior secondary schools’ mathematics syllabi emphasise developing learners’ computer skills and an appreciation of the role of modern technology in mathematics. The Botswana Education system has adopted a postmodernist education approach whose main underlying learning theory is Constructivism which prompted theauthor’s desire to equip mathematics teachers with the skills and knowledge of employing the use of computers in mathematics teaching and learning.

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