In June 2014 we reported that Londolozi Digital Learning Centre’s “hub” – in the nearby town of Hazyview – 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.

Many guests to Londolozi have contributed to the vision of this model – one that 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, using 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 the 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.

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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.

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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 Academy” 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.

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Long division under the Digital Tree of Knowledge at Hazyview Digital Learning Centre. School learners attend the centre once a week for two hours where each one has access to his or her own computer and/or tablet as well as the world’s latest education apps.

I would personally like to take the opportunity to thank Londolozi and visitors to Londolozi for believing in our mission and supporting it over the last 18 months. To all of you who have been able to visit the Londolozi Digital Learning Centre, Madlala and Hazyview, we love having you and showing you around, and we are thankful for the energy and support that you bring. 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. If you would like to receive Good Work Foundation’s monthly news, stories and videos, please sign up to our monthly newsletter. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

With love and “digital” regards,

Kate Groch, Gogo Mo, and the Good Work Foundation 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. The 2013 grade four learners (those not attending HDLC) scored 48.7 percent compared to 2014’s group who scored an average of 76.5 percent.

Filed under 2020 Vision GWF

11 Comments

on Kate Groch on ‘What 30% Could Mean for South Africa’
    Martin Foster says:

    Wonderful: May this eventually be in all schools!

    Kate says:

    Thank you Martin, yes we hope so too. we plan to consolidate and refine the model next year as a proof of concept for all. It has been so wonderful as an educator to see the young learners engage and access the learning. it should definitely be in all schools. kind regards Kate

    Judy Guffey says:

    Good (great) work by good (great) people. You are all in my heart daily.
    Aloham Tutu.

    Kate says:

    thank you for your never ending support and love from afar. we look forward to seeing you back in the Open Learning Academy again next year love Kate

    Jill Grady says:

    Great blog Ryan and Kate! It’s great to hear of the wonderful progress the children are making and nice to see that they are having fun and enjoying their time while learning. I look forward to some years down the road, when we will hear that Martin has achieved his goal to become a Dr.!

    Kate says:

    Dear Jill.
    As an educator I cant wait to see what we will have to be offering at the Hazyview Digital Learning Campus when these learners begin post school studies. wonderful to see what digital access is facilitating. thanks for your ongoing support of our efforts. Kind regards Kate

    What a real ‘feel good’ story. A 30% improvement is a true testament to the dedication and support that has gone into this programme. And it can only improve from here onwards.

    Kate says:

    Towards World Class Education and Access to learning for all. Very exciting. Kind regards

    Kate

    Jenifer Westphal says:

    I feel it happening, Kate…and its going to be amazing! My heart is full to bursting reading your blog, the energy you have is pouring through your words. I LOVE that we are all a part of such transformational and powerful change in rural SA. These amazing people deserve the chance, and more. I have always believed when you are doing something beautiful, you will attract beautiful people to it. And you have…so cool….

    Kate says:

    Yes Jenifer it is definitely happening. we are all very excited here at HDLC. it is wonderful to see an idea gain traction and success. these young people grow every day and we cant wait to follow their progress. thanks as always for your loving support of all we do at GWF. love Kate

    ubisi vote says:

    As jdlc learner im dedicated towards becoming tour guide any where in RSA , it was my beloved choice job that i dreamt of when i was young,so i have obtain chance to jdcl in the tour guiding course

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