Witchcraft and Mathematics Learning in South African Rural Schools

  • Hlamulo Mbhiza University of the Witwatersrand
Keywords: Mathematics, Mathematics Learning, rural, witchcraft, witchcraft beliefs, cultural relativism


In South Africa, there is no adequate research that explored mathematics learning and teaching within rural schools and classrooms. Various literature posits that mathematics education research has virtually over-concentrated on urban and township schools and consistently ignored rural contexts and schools. Arguments exist that rural education and rural education research have been understudied in South Africa. Presumably, this would include mathematics education research as well. This paper explores the relationship between witchcraft beliefs, which is considered as an entrenched cultural phenomenon, and learners' mathematics learning within rural classrooms. In this paper, the local influences include that the learners end up not demonstrating their full understanding of mathematics contents because of the beliefs that if they exhibit their knowledge of the subject, they may be bewitched. Cultural Relativism was used to theorise the study within qualitative critical phenomenology as a methodology for the study. The study comprises 12 mathematics learners from a rural Acornhoek region in Mpumalanga Province, and data were collected using individual semi-structured interviews while the collected data were analysed using Critical Discourse Analysis. Findings from this study illuminated that local beliefs and knowledge such as witchcraft exert significant influence on schools and learners' learning, including learners' not demonstrating their optimum understanding of mathematics. 


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How to Cite
Mbhiza, H. (2021). Witchcraft and Mathematics Learning in South African Rural Schools. Interdisciplinary Journal of Education Research , 3(1), 27-36. https://doi.org/10.51986/ijer-2021.vol3.01.03