E-Learning system aims to assist in improving rural school results

2019-04-03 06:01
photos: suppliedGrade 11 and Grade 12 classes for maths and physical sciences at Mondi’s launch of the e-Learning System at Candabuthule High.

photos: suppliedGrade 11 and Grade 12 classes for maths and physical sciences at Mondi’s launch of the e-Learning System at Candabuthule High.

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THOUSANDS of pupils in rural KwaZulu-Natal will benefit from an investment by global packaging and paper group, Mondi, in the sophisticated Ligbron e-Learning System which connects schools all over South Africa to an online learning network that assists with mathematics and science.

The Ligbron e-Learning System was officially launched at Candabuthule High in Greytown recently.

Head of stakeholder engagement at Mondi, Thobi Mkhize, said that this was in keeping with Mondi South Africa’s strategy of partnering with communities, government and other stakeholders to implement corporate social investment plans that focus on education and, in particular, mathematics and science.

Resource centres at Indala High in Richmond and Mahlahla High in Bulwer were also launched this week.

Cintasign and Thabang, two of Mondi’s contractors in the Midlands, are also supporting this initiative.

“Mondi is committed to helping young South Africans who need opportunities the most.

“We are focusing on remote rural schools who do not have the same resources as their urban counterparts and look forward to helping these youngsters realise their dreams of following careers in science, engineering and commerce,” Mkhize said.

Mondi has established a resource centre at the school and live-streaming of mathematics and science lessons is shared by using video conferencing and desktop sharing.

Each e-learning classroom has an e-Boxx with a smart interactive whiteboard, a digital camera, sound system and alarm system.

During live-streaming, the image of the teachers/pupils from linked schools will be visible on the smartboard, enabling them to take an active part in the lessons. The smart boards display the presentation and any pupil and teacher can write on the SMART board and ask questions from their own school. These will be displayed and heard at all schools.

Mkhize said that clear, concise maths and science lessons that closely follow the curriculum laid out by the Department of Education are streamed live at pre-arranged times three times a week.

Candabuthule High has 772 pupils. While much of the focus will be on the 34 pupils who will complete their matric mathematic examinations and the 23 who will be writing matric science, the Ligbron e-Learning System also includes day-to-day lessons in mathematics and science for Grades 8 to 11.

Mkhize explained that last year Mondi completed a survey in 26 high schools within the Mondi Forests footprint in the Midlands that offered mathematics and science as subjects, saying: “The outcome was very worrying and the survey showed poor performance across the board in maths and science as well as very low enrolment in these subjects.

“Realising that urgent intervention was needed, we identified three schools where we could install e-learning equipment and where this highly effective system would be supported not only by learners and their teachers but also by the broader school community.”

Project management is a key component. This includes regular contact by phone, constant monitoring of log-in to live sessions, quarterly meetings with all e-learning teachers plus pre- and post-testing.

Stringent security systems have been installed. Online and technical support is carried out via a call centre as well as on-site maintenance of hardware and software.

Mkhize said that Mondi had gained valuable insights from the introduction of the system at the KwaNxusa High School in Melmoth, KZN, in February last year.

“We knew from the outset that this would not be a quick fix, but we can see how the process began to become embedded in the school. The school achieved a 100% pass in science, but maths results were disappointing. However, we were able to clearly identify the problems which we have already begun to address,” Mkhize added.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been that interventions have not been introduced early enough.

At Candabuthule High, Grade 11 pupils will have access to transmissions twice a week (maths on Mondays and science on Wednesdays). There will be an upgrade of Grade 8 to 12 lessons with e-books made available for the pupils. Grade 10 to 12 teachers will receive software training as well as quarterly development sessions in both subjects.

— Supplied.

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