Better results with iPad

By Drum Digital
28 July 2014

How iPad drastically improved results, school enrollment and attendance at the Gugulesizwe Primary School in Gauteng.

At the Gugulesizwe Primary School, one of the biggest challenges was to get learning materials. Not only textbooks, but also pens, pencils and workbooks. It was either in low supply or not available at all, resulting in lessons that were dull and uninspiring, and teachers having to make materials themselves – putting additional pressure on their time and capacity.

However, since introducing the iSchoolAfrica iPad Learning Programme in 2011, things have changed at this school. Not only are their attendance and enrollment rates up, but the children have also improved their results. With the sponsorship of the Peermont School Support Programme (PSSP), iSchoolAfrica introduced mobile iPad labs, which are easily wheeled from classroom to classroom and integrated into different subjects. This means that a grade 3 class could use the lab for Maths and a grade 6 class could use it for English. Gugulesizwe Primary School now use iPads as concept re-enforcement tools. For example, the app Keynote is used regularly by teachers to create engaging presentations that demonstrate and explain concepts to students. Teachers also identify apps which reinforce what has been presented or taught and students are given the opportunity to use these apps. Additionally, students are expected to create their own engaging content to further enforce curriculum based concepts. Apps like Popmath are used by the grade 3 students to improve their addition and subtraction skills and grade 6 and 7 students use Bookcreator to write and compile books that have rich content like images, videos and audio. It’s also solved the school’s problems with materials – not only has iPad allowed the school access to a host of world-leading educational content and resources that were not available to them previously, the iPad also provides teachers and learners with the tools to create their own resources, which in the past, they have not had access to.

“I really love using technology. The iPads brought a change, they brought life. It’s getting learners thinking outside the box,” says Lindiwe Malewa, one of the teachers at Gugulesizwe Primary School.

“It has been amazing to work with the iPad. It is so simple to use, the kids adopt it intuitively. We have found very light downtime. Very little maintenance challenges,” says Clifford Elk, Convener of the PSSP. “We have a number of challenges in our public education system in South Africa. By introducing our youngsters to technology, and exposing them to creative process, we start to prepare them better for the 21st century workplace.”

The iPad labs at Gugulesizwe Primary School are managed by a booking system and there is a timetable which details the classes and times iPads are being used.

But of all the changes that iPad brought to this school’s classrooms, the improvements in enrollment, class attendance, numeracy and literacy have been the biggest triumphs.

Annual National Assessment (ANA) tests are set by the Department of Basic Education in order to assess and improve language and mathematics skills of students and since the introduction of the iPads, the ANA results have risen from 37% in 2012 to 54% in 2013 for grade six Maths; and in grade 2 Maths it has shown an overall improvement of 5% since 2011. In grade 4 and 5 English, the school came in the top 10 schools in the Gauteng East District in 2013 for the first time ever.

"Learning is now in real time. For example, in natural sciences, learners can see how a seed actually grows instantly in an app instead of having to wait for days to see changes in a planted seed,” says Malewa.

Student enrollments have increased with 38% and while absenteeismwas an issue in the past, attendance has now improved by up to 45%. Students are more excited about learning, they are more focused and less likely to be absent from school when they know they are going to be using iPads.

“Before we had such a problem with getting the learners to attend school. Now the learners want to come to school in the hopes that they will get to work with the iPad,” says Thobile Mavundla, Principal at Gugulesizwe.

“We can fundamentally change the landscape of this country. In my view iPad can be the game changer in our schools. I believe that these kids are looking beyond school now. They are beginning to dream, they are beginning to have aspirations. They are beginning to believe that anything is possible,” says Elk.

What is iSchoolAfrica? An education initiative developed by Apple’s local Value Added Distributor, Core Group, which reaches under-resourced rural and township schools across South Africa. The overall objective is to empower teachers and students by giving them access to the world’s most advanced educational technology and classroom practices. The iSchoolAfrica iPad Learning Programme combines mobile iPad labs with training, support, integration, monitoring and evaluation to address key challenges faced by our teachers and students and create a sustainable impact on education. To enable the rollout of iPads into schools, iSchoolAfrica works in partnership with programme sponsors from both government and the private sector.

The Peermont School Support Programme (PSSP) is a programme that supports the creation of centers of educational excellence in public schools. PSSP is an iSchoolAfrica sponsor and commissioned the implementation of the iSchoolAfrica iPad Learning Programme into Gugulesizwe Primary School. iSchoolAfrica was selected by PSSP as it provided a solution that not only offered ‘best of breed’ technology, but also a unique, supportive infrastructure that ensured systematic and sustainable impact on the students and teachers.

For more information on iSchoolAfrica, visit www.ischoolafrica.com

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