5 Great Learning Apps for Rural South Africa

According to statistics, in July 2014 there were over three million apps available across: Google Play (1. 3 million), Apple App Store (1.2 million), Windows Phone Store (300,000), Amazon App Store (240,000) and Blackberry World (130,000).

Obviously not all of these are education-based apps, but Apple claims that 80,000 of its apps are catergorised as “education.” With so many available apps, one of the digital facilitator’s most important tasks is “app aggregation” – and that depends on age, academic level, language ability, etc.

Below are five apps that our digital facilitators used in 2014 at Hazyview Digital Learning Centre’s (HDLC) Open Learning Academy in rural South Africa for grade four learners.

The focus – if you ask Crispen, our Head of Open Learning – is to “have as much fun as possible” but coming in a close second: dramatically improve English reading and comprehension, and basic mathematics numeracy. They are not necessarily the best-looking apps or the most expensive (in fact all of them are FREE), but after a number of testing phases in the Open Learning Academy, these have proven to be the easiest for beginners to use, and the most useful in terms of content for our group of learners.

Head of Open Learning and "Master" aggregator of digital learning apps: Crispen Bvumbghe.

Head of Open Learning and “Master” aggregator of digital learning apps: Crispen Bvumbghe.

If you can recommend any learning apps that would be suitable for grade four learners (nine- to ten-year-olds) in rural South Africa, please leave your recommendations below.

1. Scrabble (Electronic Arts)

This is one that most readers will know and is still – in Crispen’s opinion – the best app for vocabulary development. One of its best qualities is that it caters for various English language proficiency levels.


2. Word Search (MichelAnge Workshop)

For word recognition, this app caters for all levels and is especially useful for second language learners. We have found that the app improves reading dramatically – it might be simple, but it works!


3. Math BINGO (Iuyen sg)

Repetition on this really fun app has shown a huge improvement in basic numeracy. Learners can choose from addition, subtraction, multiplication or division BONGO, then select a level of difficulty. Great for tablet and iPad beginners.


4. Sentence Builder Lite (BareBoneApps.com)

For second-language English, Crispen rates this as one of the best apps for sentence construction: a four word sentence is displayed, but the words are jumbled. It caters for all levels and the words for the each sentence are carefully selected to suit the application of language development and vocabulary.


5. Third Grade Learning Games (Kevin Bradford)

As an overall learning solution, this has worked really well for our grade four learners who are new to elearning. The app contains ten mini games covering mathematics, sentence construction, grammar and word comparison.


About Open Learning Academies: Open Learning Academies are built to empower rural people from a young age. The academies aim to deliver English literacy, math’s literacy, digital literacy, and life skills to school-aged learners. Good Work Foundation is passionate about providing a cutting-edge space. One where every child has access to a tablet computer, educational apps and collaborative learning, often using cloud-based applications. We partner with parents and caregivers, who enroll their children in our after-school programmes as well as local schools, enabling them to outsource their digital learning to our academies.

About the author: Njabulo Mashele is a digital facilitator at the Hazyview Digital Learning Centre’s Open Learning Academy in Mpumalanga, South Africa. He facilitates learning for grade four students, with an area of interest that includes language (phonetics) and conservation. Njabulo is a Good Work Foundation (GWF) ICDL graduate, a qualified barista trainer, and is also a member of the GWF Media Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @njabulo_tn.


Njabulo Mashele.