You can now download a copy of the latest issue of The Mighty Pen. As usual, this issue is packed with news snippets from education. You will also find information about digital offerings that could be of great value in an e-learning environment.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
The February 2019 issue of The Mighty Pen is out and is available for download.
One of the articles – Tablets – the tip of the iceberg – contains interesting information about the correct and potential use of tablets in the classroom.
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.
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 needs, using 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.
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.