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Published in: Achiever Magazine Issue 14 2005

African Decisions Issue 1 2006

Stokvel Times
Issue 02 2006






Computer learning goes rural
Knowledge Network in partnership with Mpumalanga Department of Education has found a way to take computer literacy to the remotest of rural areas.

For schools in remote areas, some without landlines, modern computer technologies and sophisticated infrastructures, the idea of participating in an information technology learning programme and achieving the required outcomes in between eight and ten weeks seemed unthinkable.

In April 2004, the Mpumalanga Department of Education in partnership with Knowledge Network® implemented a pilot programme to equip educators and learners with the skills needed to use a computer as a tool. The programme involved Project Managers and Curriculum Implementers from the Department training educators in a new learning methodology and training educators to present lessons on information technology to learners in their classes. The outcomes based, project- and goal-oriented, active learning environment created for the learners required that the learners achieve the required outcomes at the end of each lesson, and complete an assessment. Educators, some with no prior exposure to computers, were required to mark the assessments and submit results in electronic form.

A new way of thinking, a new way of learning

For educators, teaching, marking and results generation are all too familiar - they do that everyday. It is difficult to imagine the process when computers are involved if you are not familiar with computers. This proved no problem for the educators and learners in the Mpumalanga Department of Education schools selected for the pilot. Educators attended the ILAMM® (Integrated Learning and Mentoring Methodology) course and training on the Knowledge Network® sessions, and then presented the sessions to their learners. The learners applied what they had learned to the projects and were ready to work in teams, interpret the assessment, complete the assessment, and pass the assessment with a minimum of 70% - some schools achieving this within eight weeks.

86% pass rate for the pilot, 100% pass rate achieved by some schools

The pass rate achieved for the pilot in 2004 was 86% (2313 learners). (See some of the assessments completed by learners after completing only six sessions of the programme.)

Dikotelo Combined School achieved a 100% pass rate for the participating Grade 9 classes. Mr B S Lekalakala, educator at Dikotelo Combined School, says that the educators responded positively and embraced the project. “Their dedication, enthusiasm, and methods used under pressing conditions, produced unbelievable, amazing and excellent results. In 2004, all 120 learners passed and received certificates even though they had only one period per week and worked in groups of five. It is a milestone for the school to produce such excellent results under difficult conditions. This is all following the motto of the school which says that we shall strive to give the best to our learners and the community, and serve as a model to all the schools around us.”

Sibonelo Primary School achieved 100% pass rate for the participating Grade 6 and 7 classes.

Mr M E Mahlangu, Principal of Sibonelo Primary School says that all class teachers took their own classes for computer literacy. “The educators liked the programme – it was easy to present to the learners. It was also easy to change from one method to another method – this made it easy for the educators to get the attention of the learners throughout the lesson. Generally, the learners liked the programme and enjoyed it very much. They understood all the lessons and had the maximum participation in all lessons and in all the groups. The programme could also be linked to the other learning areas”, says Mr Mahlangu.

Wow I never thought I would see the day …

Mr Vuma, the maths educator at Sibonelo Primary School says that it has reduced the workload. “The teacher now enjoys the laxity of strong information in computers, no more manual writing. Wow, I never thought I will see the day to fiddle with computer gadgets, now I can use it (a computer) in classes.”

“It is an honour to work with members of the Mpumulanga Department of Education, the principals and educators of the participating schools”, says Jil D Hrdliczka, Managing Director of Knowledge Network®. “The level of the educators and learners in these schools should never be underestimated. They are capable of achieving whatever it is they put their minds to, no matter how difficult,” says Jil.

A Grade 9 learner at Dikotelo Combined School, Otumiseng Kgarume says “It is inspiring and I feel good when I am working on a computer as it frees me from using a pen for some time. I will be glad if we can have an Internet because then we will be able to make research work.”

“For many of the schools involved in the pilot programme, no time is being wasted on waiting for more modern technologies to be installed. They are using the opportunity to equip their learners with the computer skills they need for life, creatively work with limited resources and achieve outstanding results”, says Jil.

Computer literacy for rural schools – very possible. What seemed unthinkable has turned into reality for hundreds of educators and learners in Mpumalanga schools. If this is what they can achieve in only six sessions, imagine what they will be achieving a few years from now.

Sibonelo Primary School (Grd 6 and 7) achieved a 100% pass rate.
These are some of the assessments submitted by learners after completing six sessions (approx 6 hours of training). They were required to create a design for drawing software using basic drawing tools. Learners worked in teams to interpret the Knowledge Network® assessment, create their design, draw the design, print and submit their design on disk.
Some of the assessments submitted by Dikotelo Combined School (Grd 9)
The Knowledge Network® Assessment (after learners had completed only 6 sessions) involved the design of a logo using shapes and a maximum number of colours.
“I feel very happy when using a computer because it improves my creativity”, says Paul Lesola, Grade 9 Learner at Dikotelo Combined School.



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Date of update: 14 July 2010            Individual page updates: 14 July 2010