Posted on August 24, 2010 · Posted in FHSST

Our schools are struggling due to the nation wide strike. Learning needs to continue at the schools, many of whom are running on skeleton crews. A group of volunteers have authored a set of open source textbooks and resources that can to support learners and educators in this time. The open copyright license allows the government to distribute it openly at the cost of printing it.

These Grade 10 – 12 Mathematics and Science books need a final review before it will be accepted and distributed by the Department of Education. We have 10 days to complete the review and would like to call on all mathematicians and scientists for help.

Which mathematician and scientists?

The subject matter is Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry at high school level. We need volunteers who have post-graduate degrees in Maths, Physics, Chemistry or related fields and are willing to serve their country.

What do we have to do?

It is quite simple, we need to proof-read the books and correct any errors. The curriculum is covered, there are enough worked examples but there are a few errors which we need to find and fix. If time permits we can also simplify language and add more worked examples but this is secondary.


How we plan on doing it.

Volunteers can join us for one or many of the following slots at the Open Innovation Studio (27 Buitenkant Street in Cape Town) where we will be working through the books. Alternatively volunteers can receive material and provide feedback by e-mail. Volunteers will read a section, correct it and submit it for capturing. We want every section read by two independent people to reduce the possibility of errors slipping through.

We will provide copies of the material to be edited, food (lunch or dinner), drinks and a superb atmosphere.

We have 1800 pages to read and we estimate that we need at least 6 people for each of Maths, Chemistry and Physics to complete the process. A final editor will be used for each of the books as a third and final check.

Update – We were doing a lot manually which required people be in Cape Town if they wanted to help out but we’ve since uploaded the books to where anyone in the world can browse and annotate errors etc. so you can help from anywhere you have an internet connection.

We’d still like to coordinate efforts to make sure we cover all chapters well. Volunteer editors should email Bridget Nash [ bridget AT siyavula DOT org DOT za ] to find out where we’re still a bit thin.

Here are the links to take a look – but please coordinate with Bridget if you’re going to contribute:

Physical Science Grade 12 on

Physical Science Grade 11 on

Physical Science Grade 10 on

Mathematics Grade 12 on

Mathematics Grade 11 on

Mathematics Grade 10 on

Time slots

Slots 09:00 – 12:30 13:30 – 17:00 17:00 – 20:30
Wednesday 25th August OIS OIS
Thursday 26th August OIS OIS
Friday 27th August OIS OIS
Saturday 28th August OIS OIS
Monday 30th August OIS OIS OIS
Tuesday 31st August OIS OIS OIS
Wednesday 1st September OIS OIS

Contact us

Mark Horner: / 083 564 6272
Neels van der Westhuizen: / 082 334 3259

More Details:

The Free High School Science Texts (FHSST)

In 2002 we started a volunteer project to write right free high school science textbooks ( This took 5 years and we which took 5 years. We finished the first versions of the books in 2007 and haven’t touched them much since then. The books are released under an open copyright licence which allows for the legal adaptation, enhancement and distribution of the books.

We were planning on beginning to work through the books correcting errata and developing full model solutions so that we could release a new version in January. Model solutions would be put on another project we have developed FullMarks ( which is to be launched this coming Friday 27th August.

The Siyavula Workbooks

We bought out a small curriculum development company that had developed a set of workbooks with teachers’ guides, lesson plans and work schedules covering all of Grades R-9 in both English and Afrikaans. We now own the copyright to the material which is released under an open copyright licence which makes it legal for people to copy, adapt, distribute and enhance the books.

About the Author

Mark Horner is the CEO of Siyavula Education, a social enterprise working in the school sector in South Africa. While working as the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow for Open and Collaborative Resources, Mark was able to transform the Free High School Science Texts (FHSST) project, which he co-founded, into Siyavula Education. In this process, openly-licensed, collaboratively authored textbooks have been printed and distributed nationally in South Africa. Working at the intersection of community, openness and technology; Mark intends to leverage this success to make Siyavula an innovative, technology provider in education that works effectively as part of the education community to ensure better learning opportunities for all. A recent notable event being the delivery of Siyavula's textbooks over Mxit, the most popular mobile chat solution in South Africa. Mark has a PhD in physics from the University of Cape Town and conducted his research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California on the results from the STAR experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. His work is carried out in the belief that the liberation of information and support of education in South Africa will lead to a peaceful and prosperous future for all South Africans.