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.
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.
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.