­­Mathematics for Everyone

In this article, Marc and Kian highlight how mathematics plays a vital role in everyday life. They outline how the inclusivity of mathematics and access to math education has led to the development of new areas of study.  

Illustration by Marc Jevon and Kian Anderson

Mathematics has the power to transform lives, communities, and civilizations, but its benefits are often inaccessible to many due to social and economic barriers. However, mathematics is not just for the privileged few but for all, regardless of their circumstances or history. Mathematics is essential for our everyday lives and impacts all over the globe, thus making it of the utmost importance to make it accessible and enjoyable for all.

Atallah (2003) describes that mathematics can be part of every person’s understanding and can have an important role in the liberation of human beings, where they describe liberation as the removal of all barriers to a person’s creativity. It can free us from ignorance, superstition, and irrationality by providing us with a logical and systematic way of understanding the world. We can use mathematics as a tool for inclusivity and social justice. Individuals from marginalized communities can be empowered by providing them with access to education and mathematical careers, thus creating diversity and equity in society.

It is explained by Danowitz and Tuitt (2011) that Higher education’s inability to align its practices with demographic shifts occurring in the United States has been well documented and is evident in the failure of certain institutions to develop adequate responses to the access and achievement gaps facing students of colour. With such compelling data, it is evident that challenges are still faced in providing equal and applicable education to students. Moriña (2017) describes inclusive education as an educational approach proposing schools where all the students can participate and all are treated like valuable school members. This can be seen as a basic human right and the basis for a fair and equitable society.

Illustration by Liani Malherbe

Philosophically inclusivity is a concept that refers to the idea of creating an environment or society in which all are respected and valued regardless of their differences. In the past, access to education was limited. As it has become more available, it allows us to learn more about mathematics in addition to it being represented in a better light to cultures all over the globe. As new branches of mathematics have developed, they have opened up new areas of study and research that are more inclusive and relevant to diverse communities. Advancing practical applications in everyday life, modern technology and science. Overall, while there is still work to be done to ensure that math is truly inclusive, many positive changes throughout history have made it more accessible, relevant, and inclusive for diverse communities.

We can promote mathematics in education by introducing more branches such as applied math, discrete math, combinatorics, etc.  These branches tend to be more complex; however, these fields are never introduced until one reaches university mathematics. This large proportion of math that is disregarded may be the fields that students enjoy. The study by Hannula et al. (2005) shows that the three closely related elements, those being belief in one’s talent, belief in the difficulty of mathematics, and liking of mathematics, affect one’s outlook on the subject. School mathematics differs immensely from university, and there is no bridge that prepares a student for the vast world of mathematics. If some of the other branches could be introduced earlier, this could widen a young student’s view on mathematics and change their attitude towards it.

The idea of “Math for Everyone” is a call to action to make mathematics more inclusive and accessible to all people, regardless of their background. Although we have already come a long way, gaps still need to be filled to provide proper access to everyone. By recognizing and embracing diversity and promoting equal opportunities, we can make math truly accessible and relevant to all people and unlock its many benefits.

Kian Anderson

BSc Computer Science, Student (3rd year), Stellenbosch University

Marc Jevon

BSc Computer Science, Student (3rd year), Stellenbosch University


Atallah, F. (2003). Mathematics through their eyes: Student conceptions of mathematics in everyday life. Concordia University.

Danowitz, M. A., & Tuitt, F. (2011). Enacting Inclusivity Through Engaged Pedagogy: A Higher Education Perspective. Equity & Excellence in Education, 44(1), 40-56.

Hannula, M. S., Kaasila, R., Laine, A., & Pehkonen, E. (2005). Structure and Typical Profiles of Elementary Teacher Students’ View of Mathematics. International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, 3(29), 89-96.

Moriña, A. (2017). Inclusive education in higher education: challenges and opportunities. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 32(1), 3-17.

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