iSchoolAfrica presents rural development programme
How the iPad inspired a young girl to express her creativity on a whole new level.
|Issued by: Core Group|
[Johannesburg, 22 September 2015]
"She's just gone from strength to strength. Now she thinks that she can do anything, and she can." Nicholas Holmes, iSchool Africa KZN facilitator.
Life has brought tremendous challenges and heartache for 13-year-old Gugulethu Thusi, a student at Gobamahlamvu Primary School in rural KwaZulu-Natal. With a challenging family situation and the day-to-day difficulties of living in a poor rural area, focusing on and excelling at school hasn't been easy. Like any young girl, however, Thusi has dreams and aspirations of her own, and no matter what circumstances she faces, her determination and positive spirit cannot be quelled.
In April 2011, an opportunity arrived to bolster her dreams. Through a partnership between iSchoolAfrica and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), 40 iPads were introduced at Gobamahlamvu Primary School.
With the iSchoolAfrica and the iPad came a completely new way of teaching and learning that began to drastically change the lives of not only Thusi, but all of the teachers and students. With this powerful new resource in Gugu's hands, and the help and facilitation offered by iSchoolAfrica, her eyes were opened to an exciting world that previously didn't exist in the under-resourced environment she was used to. Using the iPad was easy, and with the variety of apps available, learning became fun and Thusi was able to express her creativity in new ways.
Thusi quickly developed a passion for taking photographs, and in October 2014, won the School iPhotography Competition. Having competed against rural, government and private schools from across the country, her achievement was a great one. With this boost in her confidence, and the continued access to an abundance of resources that iPad offers her, Thusi continues to go from strength to strength with her learning.
"The township children need to be educated and to develop. Sometimes they look at themselves without uniforms and without shoes and they think that they won't make it." Thobi Lucia Twala, principal, Gobamahlamvu Primary School
Thusi's growth was sparked in April 2011 when iPads were introduced at her school through the iSchoolAfrica Rural Development Programme. With this programme, iSchoolAfrica and the DRDLR aim to expose teachers and learners from the poorest rural communicates to best-of-breed technology and educational practices, while at the same time decreasing the opportunity cost for them to access information for learning. The programme is structured and facilitated in a way that ensures skills are transferred to teachers during the implementation phase. The result is that the impact of the programme is sustained on an ongoing basis. Students at Gobamahlamvu Primary School's grades have improved, especially in English and maths, across all age groups.
Students are retaining concepts better, and now have the opportunity to become digitally literate and acquire the necessary 21st century skills through the easy access to a multitude of resources on the iPad that were previously unavailable to them.
Along with her peers, Thusi took to the iPad immediately, and using it in class has become second nature. The iPads are used primarily for maths, English and life skills, and also as part of extracurricular programmes such as iPhotography and The Youth Press Team. Focus has been placed on grades R, 1 and 2 at the school, where educators use the iPads daily, while the senior primary use them for project-based work.
"The way we grew up in this rural area was very hard. Technology is hard to come by." Zamokuhle Khumalo, iPad facilitator, Gobamahlamvu Primary School
"I feel like sometimes rural schools are forgotten. The iPad gives them a step up." Nicholas Holmes, iSchool Africa KZN facilitator
Since the introduction of iPads at Gobamahlamvu Primary School there has been a dramatic change in the way teachers educate and how students approach their learning. Over and above the benefits that come with an interactive and engaging learning environment, students are achieving better marks in their annual numeracy and literacy benchmark tests. In the extracurricular sphere, only six months since receiving the iPads, Gobamahlamvu Primary School had entries in the School iPhotography, Youth Press Team and Apple in Education competitions.
Along with the continued support and facilitation from iSchoolAfrica, students like Thusi are enjoying a host of new possibilities and opportunities made available through iPad and the results are clear:
* Interactive teaching methods and increased opportunities for collaboration and analysis of concepts taught in class.
"Gugu liked taking pictures and she entered the School iPhotography Competition. One of the pictures that she took was chosen as the winner of the competition, and that was competing against schools across the country." Nicholas Holmes, iSchool Africa KZN facilitator
Future prospects now a reality
Since using the iPad, Thusi's peers, mentors and school principal have noticed a remarkable change in her. Thusi has always been a positive child and determined to succeed despite her struggles, but with the iPad, her confidence and excitement around learning have multiplied.
In an environment where opportunities to succeed are seemingly few, the iPad offers the tools to release the potential that already exists inside each child at Gobamahlamvu Primary School. As iSchoolAfrica continues to partner with the DRDLR, it hopes to reshape the knowledge economy of rural South Africa by providing learning opportunities that help to bridge the gap for children living in these remote and marginalised areas. With its support and facilitation impacting rural schools such as Thusi's, lives are continually being changed, one by one.
"I think we are investing in Gugu. We are very proud of her."