Welcome to the GMMDC

Improving the shortcomings in basic education in South Africa should be a national priority.  Just as a country cannot provide normal education in an abnormal society, so an abnormal education system cannot sustain a normal society.   Some of our crucial education challenges include a shortage of teaching skills, a shortage of infrastructure in most public schools and a shortage of learner support. 

The Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre (GMMDC), a self-funded engagement centre within the School of Computing Science, Mathematics & Applied Mathematics, Physics and Statistics at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, was created in 2002 specifically to find innovative ways to improve teaching and learning of mathematics and physical sciences in South African schools and colleges.

Originally founded as a Development Programme, it was formally re-constituted as the Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Unit (GMMDU) in the Science Faculty of the university in 2008 and again upgraded to an engagement centre at the end of 2017.

Globally, education has undergone major paradigm shifts.  The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) has created a need for blended learning (integration of subjects with each other); learner centeredness, constructivism and – more recently – STEAM education (the combination of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) which has compelled GMMDC to evolve a new education model that includes all these elements. 

Over the past five years the GMMDC’s strategic approach to academic development included the harnessing of modern technologies in an integrated way to create innovative modern teaching and learning (T&L) models and support platforms for in-service teachers and learners that are compatible with, and sensitive to, education challenges in the secondary school and college environments in South Africa.

This has resulted in unique customized off-line techno-blended models (TBM’s) for mathematics and physical sciences that are modern and curriculum-aligned. The T&L models have evolved over a period of more than 10 years and have been updated and extended annually.   The TBM approach was used across a range of mathematics and science teacher- and learner- development projects that were implemented over the past five years. These projects were mostly implemented in the Eastern Cape Province (ECP) and also served as participative action research (PAR) laboratories to measure educational impact and to facilitate further development of digital T&L resources.

GMMDC Vision:

  • To improve the quality of teaching and learning of Mathematics and Physical Sciences  at TVET College/Secondary Schools;
  • To promote the integrated use of relevant 21st century technologies in the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Physical Sciences;
  • To promote public awareness of the importance of Mathematics and Physical Sciences as gateway subjects for access to Higher Education and for economic growth in South Africa;
  • To promote STEAM* education at schools and TVET colleges against the background of the skills needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

*STEAM – Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics - STEAM education is a modern way of teaching how all things relate to each other, in school and in life. It aims to de-segregate the traditional ways in which STEM subjects are taught. STEAM education also represents a global paradigm shift in education which promotes modern learner-centered pedagogical practice including experiential learning linked to real-life problem-solving and the promotion of connections between mathematics and arts.

GMMDC Mission:

The mission of the GMMDC is to:

  • Develop and implement innovative techno-blended models to improve the quality of teaching and learning of Mathematics and Physical Sciences in secondary schools and at TVET Colleges;
  • Provide effective professional skills development training for in-service Mathematics and Physical Sciences educators;
  • Incubate Mathematics and Physical Sciences learners with potential for access and success at  HE institutions;
  • Develop and provide quality Mathematics and Physical Sciences digital resources and equipment for teaching and learning support at TVET Colleges & Secondary Schools.

The GMMDU uses a customized offline Techno-Blended Model (TBM) approach to development in order to create Modern Constructivist Learning Environments (CLE’s) for CAPS mathematics and physical sciences in under-resourced school classrooms and elsewhere. The TBM and modern TouchTutor® resource material serve as a basis for the incubation and support of learners at secondary schools. An innovative new mobile Android presentation device (called Gamma) with accompanying interactive software (called GammaTutor™) form the basis for SACE accredited professional development and support for educators. Appropriate digital technologies are being utilized in an innovative and integrated way to be responsive to 21st century educational paradigms, socio-economic challenges and academic challenges in under-resourced schools and colleges.

The diagrams below summarizes the conceptual framework for development models and TOAC of the GMMDC:





 "Our South African youth must study maths and science in order for us to be a winning nation."


The late Dr Govan Mbeki voiced this fervent appeal in 2001 during his 90th birthday speech against the backdrop of a growing crisis in Mathematics and Science Education in our country.

He also recalled how he struggled with mathematical aspects of his studies in economics whilst on Robben Island. To honor his wish academics ( Prof WA Olivier and the late Mr Flip Potgieter) in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the then UPE  decided, in 2001, to respond to the Mathematical needs of communities in the Eastern Cape by consolidating existing Mathematics development projects into an expanded Mathematics development programme.

Dr Mbeki gave his full support to such a programme and agreed to have his name associated with it. In December 2001 the group of academics managed to secure a sponsorship from SASOL. This led to the formation of the Govan Mbeki SASOL Mathematics Development Programme (GMSMDP). Since its inception the GMSMDP has grown into a vibrant engagement entity at the Nelson Mandela University that focuses on Mathematics and Science development amongst educators and learners mostly in the Eastern Cape province.

A number of new projects, including a maths and science Incubator School Project (ISP) for Grades 10-12 learners and Professional Skills Upgrade Programme (MATHSUP) for FET educators, were added after 2004 to the list of GMSMDP projects.

In October of 2008 the GMSMDP was re-constituted as a formal Nelson Mandela University entity named Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Unit (GMMDU).

Since the beginning of 2011, the GMMDU was housed in the School of Computing Science, Mathematics, Statistics and Physics. In 2017 the GMMDU became an NMU Engagement Centre based in the Science Faculty. Many innovative digital resources, applications and programmes to support mathematics and physical sciences educators and learners in secondary schools have subsequently been developed and successfully implemented by the GMMDC in the ECP and beyond. Currently the Govan Mbeki Development Centre (GMMDC) is housed on the Bird Street Campus of the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth. 


Contact information
Prof Werner Olivier
Director of GMMDC
Tel: 27 41 504 2305