Currently, only 37% of learners who start Grade 1 in South Africa go on to complete matric. And it seems like it will not going to get any easier. We have a large chunk of our teachers nearing the end of their careers. An expected 30,000 teachers are due to retire by 2030.
In this sea of challenges, there are islands of hope though. The following seven organisations have embraced technology to provide feasible solutions to the issues we face in South Africa, particularly in the high school space. With support and collaboration, these might offer the way forward for us as a nation with such a broad array of challenges in our education system. To the people behind these inspiring organisations, we salute you. Keep going! Together, we might be able to make all the difference. We back you!
Huddle is on a mission to improve high school education and is hoping to do that by providing high-quality, low-cost teaching in a blended classroom that is scaleable. Blended learning uses a combination of video and in-person teaching and is exciting for a number of reasons. Firstly, you can get the best teachers in the country to teach the lessons. Secondly, it takes the pressure off the teacher who is then able to give more one-on-one teaching during class. And thirdly, one video series can be taught at schools around the country
The best part? It’s working. Huddle classrooms have high levels of motivation and engagement, and a massive improvement in classroom behaviour. They want to make learning spaces joyful and engaging. Lead, in India, has proven this can be done as they have a similar model and have 5 million students.
With a focus on maths, robotics and coding, JumpStart has developed programs that improve learners’ comprehension in these important subjects. They currently operate at 80 schools, with 27,000 learners, and use digital assessments and real-time monitoring to track learning outcomes. This is at the heart of what they do – they have a variety of tools to monitor learner progress, improve programme performance, support decision-making, and provide transparency to stakeholders.
They also create meaningful work experience for unemployed youth by training them up as maths tutors. After a positive experience in schools, many take up careers in education. JumpStart have won numerous awards, most notably the MTN Award for Social Change for excellence in M&E practice in the medium-sized non-profit category.
RLabs is an award-winning non-profit company that was established in 2009 in Bridgetown, Cape Town. They have since expanded the RLabs model to 23 countries across 5 continents impacting more than 20 million people through their work. RLabs Youth provides young people with a range of skills programmes that makes them more accessible for the marketplace. It also offers young people the opportunity to start their own businesses or start-ups through the youth business programmes.
Take their NextGen program for example. It hosts coding and design bootcamps for children aged 10 – 17 years from marginalized communities that are hosted during the school holidays. These intensive and fun boot camps introduced young children to the core concepts of the 4th Industrial Revolution through allowing them to develop games, code for robotics and solve complex problems through design thinking.
iSchoolAfrica takes donated iPads, preloaded with apps to support CAPS (South African Curriculum), to township, rural and inclusive schools. “The usage of iPads in the school has brought a lot of excitement amongst both the learners and the educators,” Thami Qiqimama, an educator at Zimele Primary School in Gauteng, says. “The children who weren’t performing well academically are now taught using iPads after school and as a result their work ethic and performance has improved in class. The school has benefited a lot through this programme.” There’s an iSchoolAfrica facilitator appointed to each school to work closely with teachers and provide ongoing support and mentoring within the school.
5. New Leaders
New Leaders Foundation is a non-profit organisation that empowers change in South Africa’s education system by enabling data-driven solutions. Their flagship initiative is the Data Driven Districts programme, which uses data aggregation and analytics to put quality insights into the hands of education officials, to improve learner outcomes.
Through the programme’s online dashboard, which covers 24,000 schools throughout South Africa, education officials are able to pinpoint the schools and learners that need specific support, and then trigger customised interventions that make a difference where it is needed most.
6. Ukhanyo Foundation
Even with just a 40% pass rate, there is very little support for learners who have failed their matric exams. Ukhanyo Foundation provides a ‘second-chance’ multi-faceted support programme to learners from disadvantaged backgrounds who have been unsuccessful in their matric examinations.
Here’s the thing though – a student who has obtained their matric certificate can expect almost double the salary compared to someone who has failed to complete high school. So going back and writing those exams is worth it. And Ukhanyo helps them do that through academic support, mentorship and career guidance.
7. Matric Live
Matric Live started in 2017 when Lesego Finger had just completed his matric in 2016 and was waiting to start his diploma in software development. During this idle time, he decided to use it constructively and create a platform that had all the resources he wished he had in Matric. In 2019 Matric Live was recognized at the MTN Business App of the Year awards for the best education solution of the year award.
So what is Matric Live exactly? It is a multifunctional education app that helps high school pupils learn by making learning contextual, visual and not just theoretical. It supports over 16 subjects and is free to use. The learning is designed to be fun and interactive, with a gaming feature whereby users can challenge friends with competitive exams. It has a feature called Live Exams, which is an exam simulation that enables pupils to write past exam questions on their device while keeping track of questions they often get incorrect for deep analysis.