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Islam is mathematics and love in South Africa

By Kahlil Malik Muhammad | Last updated: Jan 8, 2014 - 3:25:34 PM

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L-R: Zweli Miyataza, Principal Cass Sehloho, Kahlil Muhammad, and Sister Bashiira at Ingqayizivele School. Photos: Kahlil Muhammad

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa ( - The Original Mathematics Initiative was conceived in October of 2011 and presented to the Department of Education in South Africa. At the time, the need to improve results in mathematics, science, and technology was being discussed in every corner of the country.
South African students from Igqayizivele Secondary School with Kahlil Muhammad.

Educators began to understand the need to intervene in the lives of high school students at an earlier age if meaningful results were to be observed in students on future exams.

In January of 2012, I made a presentation to 3 schools in Tembisa Township in Johannesburg. Each school was suffering from overcrowded classrooms, overworked teachers, and substandard infrastructure as a result of the legacy of apartheid.

The principals were excited about having one Grade 8 and one Grade 9 class adopted as part of a pilot program but said no money was available for remuneration. Moreover, they said my program needed to be funded by the South African Department of Education. Four months of planning and meetings transpired to no avail. I decided to commence my program on a volunteer basis.

From the beginning, I was received well by the children. Classes of 50, 60, and even 70 students are the norm in these schools. Fortunately, my classes averaged 55 students. After a few months of intervention in 2012, my students improved tremendously in mathematics.

South African students at Tembisi Secondary School with The Final Call newspaper.
With my 9 years of teaching experience in South Africa as a mathematics instructor, I witnessed higher marks among students. Grade 8 learners’ marks improved by 21 percent when comparing Terms I and Term III. Moreover, marks improved 135 percent when comparing Term II and Term IV. Seventy- percent of learners passed mathematics for the year.

Grade 9 learners’ marks improved 55 percent when comparing Term I and Term III. Furthermore, an improvement of 95 percent was observed when comparing Terms II and Term IV. Seventy-five percent of these learners passed mathematics for the year.

Three students had marks improved by 60 percent on average from Term II to Term III and many others who improved by as much as 30 percent over the same period.

At my other schools, similar progress was observed in 2012.

Thus far, my children have exceeded the class average by 10 percent in my classes with approximately 3 hours of intervention per month. Moreover, their averages in others subjects have also increased.

By the grace of Allah, we have also managed to distribute 629 scientific calculators to my children. Consequently, these children have access to a necessary tool for continued study.

Since my children attend “no fee” schools, resources are limited and many parents are unemployed or underemployed. As a result pens, pencils and calculators are not available to each student.

South African students smile.
My journey with these youth has reminded me of the fact that children need the knowledge of self and a love for life before I teach them any other topic. As a result, I mention the legacy of apartheid, the power they possess innately, and the ancient history of Black people on the planet Earth. Moreover, we open and close our classes in prayer. Inviting Allah to class limits discipline problems.

As a spin-off of my program, I have been asked to speak at assembly 4 times to upwards of 1,600 learners. After opening, with our salutation “In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful,” I greet the children in their home languages before teaching them of their brilliance.

Lastly, Allah has permitted me to reach these youth with The Final Call. These very youth are the ones who will comprise our study group in the future, In’shallah.

What this journey has taught me is that our children are in need of genuine love and attention. Once we give them love and attention, their behavior will improve and they will excel in the classroom.

(For more info or to contact Bro. Kahlil visit