Category Archives: Education news

tHE September 2019 issue of ‘the mighty pen’ IS out

The latest issue (September 2019) issue of The Mighty Pen is now available for download.

As usual, it is packed with information, relevant to education. An overview of the activities of ADESSA is included in this issue. It is also good to see advertisements and articles about several ADESSA members, including Pearson, Edupac, Snapplify, Oxford University Press and Eduboard.

Everyone can read better

President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of ensuring that all South African children learn to read during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 20 June.

Sharing President Ramaphosa’s vision, Lectorsa has taken the lead and launched their #YesIcan Literacy campaign at the beginning of the year. The Lectorsa team is determined to work with all interested schools, businesses and NGO’s to use more than thirty years of research to improve literacy skills in South African schools and boost educational outcomes. The aim is to equip South Africa’s young people affectively with the right skillsets, to grow with an ever-changing world.

LAB-on-line data refers to more than 95 000 individual profiles (mostly ESLS across South Africa) that demonstrate how to not only improve reading and visual literacy, but also cognitive abilities for users from the first year of schooling through to management levels.

 In 2018, one of the groups they empowered, Grade 4 learners, improved their reading skills to a Grade 7 level, measured to international norms and standards.

Director of Lectorsa, Minda Marshall said, “These learners, also mostly English Second Language Students (ESLS) exceeded the expected outcomes and gave us great hope for what can be achieved with the right type of intervention.”

Indeed, the debate concerning at what age students should start the language of instruction as English and not mother tongue has been raging for several years. Important aspects that deserve our attention in this area are:

  • Mother tongue instruction in reading is important[i]
  • “Instruction in English from as early as possible is the best way to become fluent in English.” As indicated by the latest cognitive research “If you want to have native-like knowledge of English grammar, you should start from up to 10 years old.”[ii]
  • The current implementation preference in most South African public schools, which is the option to use mother-tongue instruction as opposed to English instruction in grades one, two and three, generally leads to better English learning in the long run.[iii]
  • We need to ensure that the best practices to improve and develop reading skills are accessible to all our South African learners.

How can you do your part?

PARENTS

  • Parents should read to their young children-  preferably beautiful stories in their home language.
  • Children in Grade 1, 2 and 3 should read to their parents from their school workbooks.
  • Parents should ensure that there are books available at home.

SCHOOLS and other organisations

  • Schools must take up the responsibility to ensure that accurate strategies for literacy intervention and development are deployed at ALL levels.
  • TVET colleges and universities should empower all their students with the necessary skill sets to be able to interact effectively with the information they have to study.
  • Colleges and universities should ensure access to the best training courses available for teachers, facilitators and parents.
  • Government and private sector should work together to ensure that more libraries in our communities are established giving learners access to books.
  • Companies and individuals can sponsor students, schools and NPO’s with the implementation of a system like LAB-on-line (contact us at office@lectorsa.com for more information)

“At Lectorsa, we have a proven strategy. In the schools where we have implemented our solution, educational outcomes improved, learners’ self-confidence increased and growth was evident. We are ready to do our part in ensuring the next ten years see a major change in literacy levels in our nation.”

Excited about the future, Marshall said, “Transforming South Africa is possible.  Together we can make a real and sustainable difference. Join our movement – #yesican literacy campaign and be part of the solution.”

Zoom In interactive content now available through Snapplify

An exclusive partnership between leading local educational publisher, Oxford University Press South Africa, and global edtech company, Snapplify, has made the publisher’s interactive content series, Zoom In, easily available to thousands of learners. Both Snapplify and Oxford University Press are members of ADESSA and it is great to see strong partnerships between its members.

Covering the major South African subjects for Grades 10–12, in both English and Afrikaans, the Zoom In interactive products are designed to help learners tackle tough exam concepts, giving them the confidence to conquer all their exam questions. Interactive resources are integrated throughout, providing opportunities for self-assessment, as well as increased engagement, leading to deeper understanding of the subject matter.

For those signed up to Snapplify’s e-learning platform, Engage, free samples are downloadable, with all additional content available to check out via the digital library. The full series is also available to purchase by individual learners (through Engage or Snapplify’s online store), or in bulk via a school-wide licence.

‘Snapplify is committed to improving access to quality digital educational content, so we’re especially pleased to be distributing the Zoom In series, which really takes digital study to the next level. Using a range of interactive features, such as simulations, animations, games and activities with immediate feedback, videos, and more, Zoom In truly provides learners with the opportunity to get to grips with key concepts in the curriculum,’ said Snapplify’s Operations Director, Mark Seabrook.

The launch of the series comes at an exciting time, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that all public schools will adopt digital education over the next six years – a project in which Snapplify and other stakeholders have been actively involved.

Email education@snapplify.com to chat about your specific needs and how we can work together.

ADESSA – 2019 AGM

The 2019 AGM of ADESSA was a huge success.  Many members attended in person and others Zoomed in from different parts of the country to hear the main speaker, Brian Schreuder (Head of Department of the WCED), giving an inspiring talk about the approach of the Western Cape Education Department towards education.

The WCED’s transformational strategy has two pillars: e-learning and a “transform to perform” philosophy.  Mr Schreuder highlighted the role that the private sector can play in providing good quality content and invited ADESSA to continue its discussions with the province.

Brian Schreuder, Head of Department of the WCED

Henry Kavuma of the DBE then spoke about the SONA ICT Commitment of the President and in very clear terms spelled out the critical role that ADESSA will play in the future to assist the DBE to execute its five-year plan.

After years of working behind the scenes to boost our membership and to build good relationships with the decision makers of education, it is satisfying to see that our efforts are paying off and that ADESSA is now poised to play a significant role in the furtherance of good education in South Africa.  Our members are thrilled at the prospects that this opportunity opens for them.

Public schools in Gauteng, are your admissions policies up to date?

This article is contributed by Teach360, a member of ADESSA.

The 2019 school year is already underway and this week the admissions application process opened for 2020. If you run a school that is preparing to review its next set of young applicants, you need to ensure that you are fully up to date with the Gauteng Department of Basic Education’s new admission policies.

In particular, you should be aware that recent changes have been made regarding the province’s feeder zone regulations, with the radius of these zones extended from 5km to 30km. Are your school’s 2020 policies compliant?

Edwell Gumbo, the GM of Teach360

Until recently, public school policies mandated that schools prioritise applicants living or working within a 5km radius of their schools. This diminished the chances of children living further away from better-resourced schools from being admitted to these schools.

But for the last 18 months, Gauteng MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi has been acting on a 2016 Constitutional Court ruling to address these issues. Lesufi has done this, and in November 2018 new regulations regarding the province’s feeder zones were officially gazetted.

“Feeder zone determination plays a significant role in ensuring that access to our schools is fair, transparent and conducted in an equitable manner,” Lesufi said.

The new system gives learners who apply to the school closest to them preferential rights but, if the school is full, they can now apply to any school within a 30km radius of where they live or work. Learners who have siblings at the school they are applying to are also given priority.

Other admissions rules have been under the spotlight, too, with Lesufi calling for reform in regulations that potentially discriminate against learners based on their race, ethnicity, language, age, religion, sexual orientation, HIV status and other criteria.

Assessing your school’s compliance

As a public school in Gauteng, it’s critical that you are compliant with these new legislated changes, but assessing all of your school’s policies can be a confusing and time-consuming process.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help you, such as Teach360, an education solutions provider that developed a number of school policies addressing most of the needs of schools.  These policies are comprehensive enough to cover the pertinent components that schools need to manage, but you can even adapt or tailor them according to your school’s specific needs.

Teach360’s school policies are fully compliant with the most recent legal and regulatory requirements and cover matters such as learner discipline, language, religion, human rights, HIV/AIDS and time-scheduling.

These policies have been drafted by one of South Africa’s top education law professors and endorsed by international specialists in the field.

“We recognise that schools have to have clear and comprehensive policies in place in order to operate effectively and be compliant with the law,” says Edwell Gumbo, GM for Teach360. “Our products simplify this process by providing all the access to information and tools that schools need.”

The new school feeder zones will be revised at least every three years, or whenever a new school opens in an area. Ensuring that your policies are up to date and legally complaint will minimise any disruptions these changes cause so that you can get on with the task of educating South Africa’s young minds.

About Teach360

Teach360, which forms part of the FutureLearn Group, develops comprehensive and efficient CAPS-aligned teacher resources in the form of Teacher Files that meet classroom and administrative needs and School Policies drafted based on legal and regulatory requirements. Teach360 also provides a full set of educational resources and learning materials that include the likes of CAMI and Quanta.

WhaT will be the education trends for 2019?

In the Acer for Education magazine of January 2019 some interesting predictions are made for the use of technology in education for the year ahead. Acer is a valued membe of ADESSA, and with their permission, the article is published below:

We may not be able to see the future, but we can make an educated guess on the EdTech trends for the coming year.

I, Robot

In 1951, Isaac Asimov imagined that in 2157, children would no longer go to school, but learn from machines that could teach them lessons and evaluate their homework: that day may be closer than he ever believed. Artificial intelligence is on the riseand the classroom is no stranger to this trend: the growing importance and capabilities of AI will change the learning experience for both students and teachers.

From AI teaching assistants to using data analysis to help pupils focus on the areas in which they are lacking, to the acknowledgement that computational thinking, coding and robotics are a fundamental part of the school curriculum and that coding should be considered a form of literacy, teachers have not been replaced by machines yet and probably will not be for a long time, but both educators and learners can expect to rely more on artificial intelligence in 2019.

The classroom of the future

The impact of EdTech on schools has changed, and will continue to change, the way classrooms look and feel. Interactive whiteboards, projectors, and mobile devices at every student’s disposal, whether assigned by the school or brought from home, are flanking and sometimes replacing the traditional blackboards and chalk we used to associate to the school experience, wi-fi connection in classrooms is more readily available, and EdTech is transforming even the design of the classroom itself, which may become an environment in which everyone is equal, with no ‘front’ from which the teacher can impart knowledge to be accepted without question, an interactive, adaptable ‘smart space’ in which information comes from multiple sources.

Beyond the screen

Using technology in the classroom is no longer limited to students staring at screens. One of the trends we can expect in 2019 is for technology to become even more pervasive and immersive and to take new and more diverse forms: the rise of wearable technology and the Internet of Things means that common objects in our lives, including the ones we use in class, will be augmented and acquire the capability to store and give information, making technology more and more integrated into our daily activities.

It comes as no surprise, then, that with the growing presence of technology in our day to day routines, one of the most hotly anticipated EdTech trends for 2019 is the cheaper and more widespread use of mixed reality, which allow students to interact with their surroundings in new ways and even simulate different environments they would never otherwise reach without stepping out of the classroom. VR sets and digital twins of real-world objects will grant them an immersive, hands-on experience without the difficulties and dangers of interacting with the physical counterparts of the places and things they are shown, and augmented reality will train them for a future in which technology is a part of the fabric of the world.

Learning revolves around students

The changes in students’ learning experience are not just physical: the advancement of EdTech goes beyond the addition of more devices to the classroom and affects education at a deeper level, bringing profound innovations to the way information is given and assimilated. The coming year will see a continuation of the trend of focusing on each individual student’s needsusing technology to provide a personalised path to learning in which content adapts to students and not vice versa: with the aid of EdTech, learning becomes a continuous, multimedia experience that spans many different forms, follows students home if they cannot be present, is interactive and engaging, particularly with the rising popularity of gamification, and most importantly, does not expect everyone to conform to the same educational model that may work well for some students and be damaging to others.

StudentsImproving students’ communication skills,for their future

Quality education matters

Eketsang Secondary School in Gauteng improved its matric pass rate by 26.7% in one year, effectively recategorizing the school as a ‘performing school’.

Following the release of the 2018 National Senior Certificate matric results, Adopt-a-School Foundation is celebrating the success of the implementation of their Whole School Development (WSD) model that has helped to deliver quality schooling to hundreds of formerly underperforming schools across the county.

The release of matric results provides us with an opportunity to examine the success of our interventions in schools. We are delighted that in the past year we have achieved a pass rate of 84% with 1 600 distinctions; a 4% improvement on 2017 results,” says Steven Lebere, Executive Director of the Adopt-a-School Foundation. The Foundation works closely with 209 schools across the country, including Eketsang Secondary School.

 “Our focus is not merely results-based, but the learners’ development as a whole,” says Banyana Mohajane, Head of Programmes at Adopt-a-School Foundation. “Learners are often pushed to gain a matric certificate and a higher pass rate against all odds; however, we aim to develop quality results by addressing all obstacles faced by learners in South Africa. This has led to a successful and sustainable quality education system for everyone at our ‘adopted schools,” continues Mohajane.

Phakamani Zondi from Boitekong Secondary School in the North West is one of Adopt-a-School’s 2018 top achievers. He obtained six distinctions, including 99% for physical science, 94% for life sciences and 89% for mathematics, and was identified as a top performer from Quintile 3 schools in the province. Speaking of his dreams, Zondi says: “I had always wanted to be a scientist, from an early age, I thought that scientists can provide solutions to many problems. I also have an idea that can save the whole planet from global warming, I am planning to invent a conservation generator.” Zondi is being considered for a Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust (CRET) bursary to study Nuclear Engineering at the University of Witwatersrand this year.

 “We are extremely grateful to our corporate and strategic partners for sharing our belief that education is a critical driver for achieving South Africa’s goals for the future,” Lebere concludes.

For more information on Adopt-a-School Foundation, visit the organisation’s website at www.adoptaschool.org.za, email info@adoptaschool.co.za or call 011 592 6430.

Future scientist, Phakamani Zondi from Boitekong Secondary School in the North West Province, has been named one of Adopt-a-School’s 2018 top achievers for obtaining six discintions in his matric exams.