Intuitive Mathematical Knowledge as an Essential Aspect of Contemporary Adult Learning: A case of women street vendors in the city of Gaborone

Rebecca Nthogo Lekoko
Kgomotso Getrude Garegae


The findings of a phenomenological interview study with women street vendors showed a strong link between participants’ perceptions of everyday use of mathematical literacy and the speculations that mathematical use arose spontaneously in response to a practical need. The concept of intuitive mathematics as used indicates that mathematical thinking is an indispensable element of everyday conversation. Although the study finds that intuition and spontaneity are essential principles of lifelong learning, it concludes with recommendations for an empowerment curriculum that interweaves participants’ experiences and intuition with formal/academic mathematical literacy and psychosocial skills necessary for success in a highly competitive business world.

Full Text:



Becker, C S (1986) Interviewing in Human Science, Methods, vol 1, pp 192-124.

Bhusuman, D (1994) Teacher and Administrators' Attitudes and Perceptions of Barriers and Strategies Towards the Advancement of Women in Education Administration in Botswana, unpublished Master in Education Thesis, University of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Central Statistics Office/ Department of Non-Formal Education (1997) Report of the First National Survey on Literacy in Botswana. Literacy Survey Report 1993, The Department of Printing and Publishing Services, Gaborone.

Bogdan, R and Biklen, S (1992) Qualitative Research in Education: An introduction to theory and practice, Allyn and Bacon, Boston. Freire, P (1973) Education for Critical Consciousness, The Continuum, New York.

Garaegae, K G (2004) The Role of Mathematics Education in Poverty Reduction: An investigation on female street hawkers, paper presented at the Conference on Adult Education and Poverty Reduction: A global priority, University of Botswana, Gaborone, 14 â 16 June, retrieved on 31 January 2007 from

Glesne, C and Peshkin, A (1992) Becoming Qualitative Researchers: An introduction, Longman, Urbana-Champaign.

Jimu, I M (2004) An Exploration of Street Vending's Contribution Towards Botswana's Vision of prosperity for All by 2016, Pula: Botswana Journal of African Studies, vol 18, no 10, pp 10-30.

Johnston, B (2002) Numeracy in the Making: Twenty years of Australian adult numeracy, retrieved on May 16th 2006 from

Kellerm, J (2005). Women and the Origin of Mathematics, retrieved on March 3, 2005, from

Kincheloe, J L (1999) How Do We Tell the Workers? The socioeconomic foundations of work and vocational education, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.

Lave, J (1988) Cognition in Practice: Mind, mathematics and culture in everyday practice, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Manyika, L M (2002) An Investigation on the Skills in Botswana's Junior Secondary School Curriculum in Relation to the World of Work: The case of street-vendors and housewives, unpublished Bachelor of Education Thesis, University of Botswana, Gaborone.

Maxwell, J (1996) Qualitative Research Design: An interactive approach, Sage, Thousand Oaks.

Mbiti, J S (1988) African Religions and Philosophy, Heinemann, London. Malema, P, ed (2004) Street Vendors Demonstrate Over Harassment, Mmegi Business Week, vol 21, no 24, Friday 13 February.

Morse, J and Richards, L (2002) Readme First: For a user's guide to qualitative methods, Sage, Thousand Oaks.

Republic of Botswana (2001) Education Statistics, Government Printer, Gaborone.

Republic of Botswana, Presidential Task Force (2004) Vision 2016: Towards prosperity for all, Government Printers, Gaborone, downloaded on 30 March 2007 from

Scott, E P (1999) Women Caterers: Gaborone colorful street-side restaurants, Focus Newsletter, January 1.

Shotter, J (1993a) Conversational Realities: Constructing life through language, Sage, Thousand Oaks.

Shotter, J (1993b) Cultural Politics of Everyday Life. Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco.

Skjonsberg, E (1995) Documenting Women's Views Through Participatory Research Diaries of Daily Activities in Rural Zambia, in Fahy Bryceson, Deborah, ed, Women Wielding the Hoe: Lessons from Rural Africa for feminist theory and development practice, Berg Publishers, Oxford, pp 225-236.

Straus, A and Corbin, J (1998) Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory, Sage, Thousand Oaks.

Zaslavsky, C (1992) Women as the First Mathematicians, International Study Groups on Ethnomathematics Newsletter, vol 7, no 1, retrieved on January 1, 2005 from



Share this article: