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Solving South Africa’s maths competency problem, one Blue Ladder School at a time

The Blue Ladder Schools project partners with schools, educators and communities across the country to improve maths literacy and nutrition and to upgrade key facilities. By doing this we’re giving learners a headstart on a brighter future. However, before we can improve maths competency, we need to ensure the school environments are conducive to learning. We’re committed to ensuring each school is a place where children are well nourished, looked after and supported on their learning journey. Our focus for each school is as follows:

  • Maths capacitation – Good numeracy is the best protection against unemployment, low wages and poor health.
  • Infrastructure and sanitation – Poor infrastructure leads to increased absenteeism. Inadequate school sanitation impedes educational attainment and children are vulnerable to the health consequences of poor sanitation.
  • Leadership – Research shows that schools with strong leadership are more likely to succeed, particularly in terms of improving in maths and all other educational outcomes.
  • Social entrepreneurship with a focus on nutrition – A hungry child is more vulnerable to certain diseases and can’t concentrate or learn effectively, so we need to generate sustainable nutrition solutions.
  • Playground – Play is crucial for the development of imagination and intelligence, language, social skills and perceptual-motor abilities. Encountering numbers during play helps to address fear of numbers by making them more tangible.

Sanlam’s approach

  • Select schools that would benefit most from such an intervention, in collaboration with local departments of education.
  • Commence with a needs assessment, initially focusing on renovation and sanitation, which fosters a sense of pride and dignity.
  • Move into maths capacity-building, working with respected non-profit organisations skilled in this area.
  • Next, focus on leadership capacity development and social entrepreneurship as a way of developing sustainable solutions to the problem of school nutrition.
  • Underpin the above with employee volunteering and learning through play.
  • Instil a strong ethos of monitoring and evaluation throughout the investment.
  • Consolidate insights and learning to create a blueprint that can be used to expand the initiative throughout South Africa and other countries that could benefit.


75 Blue Ladder Schools have already benefited. More than 70 000 learners have already benefited from this initiative, with sanitation and infrastructure upgrades and maths programmes launched at their schools. Wealthsmiths™ are invited to be part of Sanlam’s biggest centenary corporate social investment project.

You can follow our progress at

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