There are huge divides in terms of access and quality of education across Africa. Mathematics in particular proves problematic for students and teachers alike, falling far short of global standards. There is however no shortage of passionate, enthusiastic and talented individuals in these countries with powerful ideas to improve the current state of education. SAMI was founded in 2013 as a means to support these local initiatives, and provide the expertise and funding necessary to implement, sustain and scale these ideas. By working directly with local people and organisations that have support and contacts within mathematics education, SAMI is well positioned to help deliver high impact solutions where they are needed most. All projects live by the following principles:
WORKING WITH PARTNERS: Supporting charities and NGOs to implement local and pan-African Maths Initiatives
MATHEMATICAL EDUCATION: Scaling projects in African countries at primary, secondary and university levels
EMPOWERMENT: Providing support for grass-root initiatives to develop into sustainable solutions
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: Assist research and development projects to access mathematics and statistical expertise
LEAPFROGGING: Creating awareness of cutting edge technology, methodologies and ideas that provide the opportunity for local initiatives to become world leaders
USE OF TECHNOLOGY: Assisting in the provision and effective evaluation of the use of new technologies in the classroom to motivate and engage learners for improved outcomes
Members and Volunteers
SAMI is extremely thankful to have a fantastic team of members and volunteers that support in the UK and Africa. Here are a few of the people that make everything possible day-to-day:
Emily Fleming has been a teacher since 2003, after gaining a BSc in Mathematics from Edinburgh and a PGCE from Oxford. She has taught at Edinburgh Academy, Bexley Grammar School and is currently working at the LyceeFrancais Charles de Gaulle. Emily had a three year break from teaching to travel and study for an MA in Mathematics Education at King's College London. During this time she became heavily involved in educational projects in Kenya and this is the reason for her involvement in the set up of SAMI. Emily is currently acting as a SAMI trustee.
Zach Mbasu is a founding board member of African Maths Initiative (AMI) and the first acting CEO. He is an experienced maths teacher and very passionate about Technology Integration in Education especially in mathematics. He has turned his passion into helping teachers as well as delivering exciting learning opportunities for students. He loves building capacity for schools and instructors to become not only consumers but producers of high quality learning resources. He also enjoys sharing practical classroom and out of classroom ideas and helping teachers and students build a positive mindset so that they can truly enjoy what they are doing. He has a bachelor's degree in Education Science and a Master's degree in Applied Statistics.
Chris is an app developer, maths teacher, and trainer from the UK. He first became involved with projects in Africa whilst studying mathematics at the University of Warwick, through their Warwick in Africa scheme. Since then he has spent time working in education in South Africa and Kenya, as well as the in the UK. He completed his Master's in Mathematics Education, specializing in the use of games and technology for learning, and is a keen mobile app developer. Since then he has worked as part of the University of Reading Statistical Services Centre to use technology for development.
David Stern grew up in Niger, in Francophone West Africa, returning to the UK and Germany for his university studies. For six years he worked as a lecturer in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Sciences at Maseno University in Kenya. He is also coordinator of content development for the new e-campus of the University. Maseno University is in western Kenya with the claim to fame that the main campus straddles the equator.
David's PhD was in pure mathematics but his interests encompass mathematics and statistics from the very applied to the purely abstract. A large part of the attraction of working in Kenya is the immense variety of challenges that need mathematical or statistical support. His postgraduate students have worked or are working on problems in climate change, road building, descriptive statistics and mathematics education as well as pure mathematics. Underlying these opportunities is the fact that the current education system is not producing enough people with the skills needed for the country's development.
Franca Hoffmann (Non-Executive Director, SAMI) is a German research mathematician currently working as Bonn Junior Fellow at the University of Bonn (Germany), and as AIMS-Carnegie Research Chair in Data Science at Quantum Leap Africa at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) Rwanda. Franca completed a PhD in Mathematics at University of Cambridge (UK) in 2017, followed by a von Karman instructorship at California Institute of Technology (US). Her research work lies at the interface of the analysis of partial differential equations and data analysis. Over the past decade, she has been involved in maths and science education initiatives across the African continent and across academic levels.
Danny completed his Masters in Mathematics at the University of Warwick, UK. During his undergraduate degree, Danny also had a keen interest in Mathematics education and spent two summers teaching in Primary and High Schools in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya. After graduating he went to AIMS-South Africa to work with their Schools Enrichment Centre.
Balazs Szendroi is Professor of Pure Mathematics at the University of Oxford, and Martin Powell Fellow and Tutor in Pure Mathematics at St Peter's College, Oxford. His research interests lie in algebraic geometry, a subject that studies geometric spaces described by polynomial equations, a far-reaching generalisation of coordinate geometry in school level mathematics. For several years, he has been engaged in a number of research and teaching initiatives in East Africa, organising workshops and summer schools in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia and Kenya in particular. He mentors research groups at the University of Nairobi and Makerere University. He is on the council of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Cape Town, South Africa.
Danilo Lewanski (Non-Executive Director, SAMI) is an Italian postgraduate researcher in maths and theoretical physics currently at IHES and at IPhT in Paris. A maths busker devoted to maths education and science communication, he has been engaged in teaching activities in Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda.
Georg completed a Masters of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo and is currently doing a PhD in computational geometry at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria. In between these degrees, he has worked as a tutor for the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences and has since returned to Africa on a regular basis to participate in and support mathematics education activities. He has completed internships at Google and is interested in the application of technology to mathematics education.
Matteo Parisi is a PhD candidate in Mathematics at the University of Oxford, Sachs Scholar at Princeton University and college lecturer at Keble College, Oxford. At the intersection of Combinatorics and Mathematical Physics, his research is on novel mathematical objects called “Amplituhedra” which encode the interactions among elementary particles – the building blocks of the Universe. Teaching and outreach activities are key parts of his academic identity. They are crucial for him to connect with, contribute to, and, ultimately, change society.
Matteo co-organised and taught with SAMI at the first ever Maths Camp in Cameroon. As a SAMI Ambassador, he creates mathematical content, aiming to foster in young people the same passion, critical thinking, and curiosity as those of researchers.
Peter is a software engineer and maths enthusiast with interests in education, mathematical biology, and languages. Peter initially joined SAMI in 2019 as a volunteer for the first French-language maths camp in Togo, and has more recently worked with SAMI as a translator for the SAMI Maths Club app.
In the summer of 2020, Peter graduated with an MSci in Mathematics with a Year Abroad from Imperial College London, where he specialised in using maths for modelling microbiological organisms. He also spent a year studying at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne where he focused on topics in pure mathematics such as Logic and Functional Analysis.
Peter now works at a London-based start up as a Machine Learning Engineer, where he applies mathematical ideas every day in the field of Natural Language Processing.
Oliver is a British-born applied mathematician. He completed his PhD in University of Warwick, studying modelling of multiphase fluid flow. He is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology where he works on the inclusion of data into mathematical and statistical models. Most recent applications of his work are in geophysics, climate science, and health.
Oliver started volunteering with SAMI in 2020, as part of the virtual maths camp (VMC) and is interested in scalable, distributable learning. His hope is for mathematics educational tools to be both easy to create and maintain, and be as widely accessible as possible to those who wish to use them.
SAMI Theory of Change
At SAMI we’ve been working to build our thoughts on how everything we do can fit into a larger picture to create real change across Africa. We hope to use this section to communicate some of these ideas when they are slightly further developed. In the meantime you can see our current working document here
Find below links to our annual report and other relevant documents: