Better Living Challenge


About Our Finalists: Imari Crous

Sep 11, 2014

Finalist goes back to school to find inspiration for her counting chair


Mathematics and ingenuity add up as local farm girl Imari Crous gets back into the classroom to improve farm workers’ lives


It all began on a farm in Wolseley, near Cape Town, for Better Living Challenge finalist Imari Crous. As a farm girl and aspiring fashion designer, she realised that farm schools in South Africa were in desperate need of an affordable solution to overcome the lack of storage space in their classrooms. “I could also see a similar problem existed in farm workers’ homes,” says Imari. She wondered why no one had addressed the issue; and so her investigations began.



It turned out that Imari needed to return to the source of the challenge. “It was back to school and back to the classroom for me,” she says. Only after visiting local farm schools in the area did she realise that they needed more than just storage space. The students lacked decent learning materials and many of them did not even have the simplest of writing materials. That’s when the idea of the counting chair came to Imari.


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Image: The Counting Chair 


She began experimenting with materials, using expired wooden fruit bins that usually served no purpose, beer bottle caps and recycled steel. From here, the multi-functional counting chair soon emerged. Providing both storage and educational tools, the counting chair became a visual and practical way for students to learn basic mathematics.


“The beer bottle caps on the counting frame are different colours, which make it easier for young learners to count and helps them get to grips with mathematics because they have a practical association with abstract concepts,” says Imari. With invaluable storage space under their seat, learners are also able to turn around easily and sit in such a way that the counting frame behind them is easily accessible.


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Image: A young learner at Good Hope Seminary Junior School practices her timetables on the Counting Chair


“Many children in farm schools do not have writing materials and the black and white board on the back of the chair enables them to progress despite their disadvantages,” explains Imari. Furthermore, the board allows children to practice their writing skills on board instead of paper; saving paper and its associated costs.


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Image: Imari shows the learners of Good Hope Seminary Junior the versatility of the Counting Chair 


Not only does the counting chair address the issue of space shortages in classrooms, but it also helps to maximise space in farm workers’ homes. Imari hopes that her solution can provide these workers and their families with space to store their food and valuables. But, more importantly, she hopes the counting chair can function in the home as an educational tool, helping these families learn the importance of basic numeracy skills.