Kate Groch on ‘What 30% Could Mean for South Africa’

In June 2014 we reported that Hazyview Digital Learning Centre “is on the brink of changing the way that education works in South Africa”. At the time, four local primary schools had elected to send their grade four students to the high-tech hub where they were able to practice their English, mathematics, and digital literacy using the most up-to-date “edutech” apps.

The model says that we need not build a media lab in every school in South Africa; rather let’s create central hubs that allow under-resourced schools to outsource specific literacies, and let’s use technology to dramatically improve learning.

The pilot started with a single school in 2013 and, based on the results, the headmistress of that school recommended Hazyview Digital Learning Centre (HDLC) to a second school in the district.

I am proud to report that today – thanks to the support of individuals from around the world – there are seven schools and two orphan programmes that formally timetable digital learning into their learner’s curriculums using HDLC. A further 850 high school students are learning using specialised apps at Madlala Digital Learning Centre, located just outside the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

I am also proud to report back on the results. Teachers as far away as Phalaborwa (two hours away) have contacted HDLC with the intention of sending their learners for digital literacy. That is based on recommendations from local principals, especially as the fruits of the programme begin to be seen.

Based on the Annual National Assessment (ANA) results, at one school there has been a 30 percent improvement in mathematics amongst grade four learners*. That is huge, and could be a game changer for the future of this country.

Martin Mathuli from Mpunzana Primary School is ten years old. His favourite apps are those that help him with English pronunciation and his favourite English word is “flower”. When he grows up he wants to be a Doctor. Here he is at Hazyview Digital Learning Centre taking part in a digital English class.

Martin Mathuli from Mpunzana Primary School is ten years old. His favourite apps are those that help him with English pronunciation and his favourite English word is “flower”. When he grows up he wants to be a Doctor. Here he is at Hazyview Digital Learning Centre taking part in a digital English class.

At HDLC we focus on creating a space of wonder. English and mathematics are both part of that, but so are activities like “drone flying.” This is what wakes a child up and engages their mind. Sbusiso and Hansel come to HDLC every day and are the youngest students to have begun their end-user certificate in Microsoft Word. They also love flying helicopters!

At HDLC we focus on creating a space of wonder. English and mathematics are both part of that, but so are activities like “drone flying.” This is what wakes a child up and engages their mind. Sbusiso and Hansel come to HDLC every day and are the youngest students to have begun their end-user certificate in Microsoft Word. They also love flying helicopters!

In 2015, we will begin phase two of the “Open Learning” programme, which sees a digital facilitator stationed permanently at each of the HDLC’s satellite schools. Armed with a charging trolley full of tablets and the latest apps, this extension of the digital learning environment back into the school will mean that this years grade fours can continue their digital education as they move into grade five.

I am often heard saying that “this is not rocket science”, it is simply using the latest advances in technology to leapfrog pedagogical challenges that exist in the rural space. The reality is that one-on-one interaction (one tablet: one student) – together with the right mix of apps and games – can and will have a dramatic impact on a child’s learning, and will change the trajectory of a child’s life.

We believe we have a solution to one of this continent’s biggest challenges, and look forward to sharing our progress as we move forward.

With love and “digital” regards,

Kate, Gogo Mo, and the GWF Family

Written by Kate Groch, Good Work Foundation CEO

*Based on a direct comparison to the previous year’s grade fours who did not attend HDLC. Last year’s grade four learners (those not attending HDLC) scored 48.7 percent compared to this year’s group who scored an average of 76.5 percent.

Digital facilitator - Teaman Manzini - introduces learners to Word Search.

Digital facilitator – Teaman Manzini – introduces learners to Word Search.

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