Nelson Mandela famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” But what is the weapon you use to change education?
And make no mistake, education in South Africa does need changing. According to an Equal Education report from 2012; 14% of South African schools don’t have electricity, 10% have no water supply, 46% use pit toilets, 90% do not have computer centres and 93% do not have libraries.
Just one in ten students that start grade one will pass mathematics in grade 12.
In the midst of this turmoil, an organisation has come along with a fresh approach, positive energy and even a possible way forward. Their weapon? Games.
Good Work Foundation (GWF) was one of the first organisations in Africa to bring tablets and learning apps to rural learners. The idea was simple: make the learning fun for the children. Everyone knows how kids love games. Their mission is to uplift rural communities through access to world-class education. And the results have been promising.
GWF’s CEO, Kate Groch, explains, “It is an example of a model that celebrates the word “nimble”. From a single campus, with a 100% locally recruited team, off a modest budget and using digital tools (often free apps), we have set out to create a new way of learning.”
Their model aims to:
1. Deliver 21st Century learning opportunities to school-leavers and/or dropouts who do not have the test results or financial means to attend major tertiary institutions; and
2. Support local schools by providing them with supplementary learning environments and tools that support learning by discovery, powered by game-based learning applications
120 days after the launch of a new campus, Justicia Digital Learning Campus, many development specialists and organisations are interested in its progress. Is the Good Work Foundation model, a model that has been tested in a semi-urban setting, robust enough to operate in our most rural communities? If it is, could the model represent a new way to tackle South Africa’s education challenges?
“The digital cloud means that rural communities have a chance to participate in the economy. That fact will change the world and – in South Africa – Good Work Foundation is proud to be leading the charge. Africa is about collaboration and our approach has been one that models ubuntu. We are working with our partners to show that change is possible when like-minded people come together to collaborate,” Groch says.
Justicia village is located 30 minutes drive from the well-known Paul Kruger Gate, an entrance to the Kruger National Park, and borders the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. The total population is not much more than 5000 people, all served by a single high school, two primary schools and a handful of preschools.
Since opening in March this year;
• 54 adults are enrolled in the yearlong adult programme, called the Bridging Academy, and the average pass rate in the information-technology literacy programme is over 90%. The primary online learning programme is a hospitality training course comprised of online learning content, including video lectures, and assessments.
• 700 scholars from three high schools, two primary schools and two preschools outsource their digital literacy to JDLC every week.
• Mid-year monitoring and evaluation data from the Open Learning Academy in Mpumalanga province (16 schools in total) shows a grade four progress increase from the beginning of the year of 7% in English literacy and 12% in mathematics literacy.
• All game-based learning apps that form part of the Open Learning Academy programme are presented in an offline format: facilitators download the learning material needed ahead of lessons and this strategy has led to a substantial reduction in internet costs.
Rhino Africa has been a proud supporter of GWF since 2009. Our CSR Manager, Teresa van der Bank, says, "Rhino Africa believes that community upliftment and education are key to empowering future generations of conservationists, innovators, and leaders. This is exactly what The Good Work Foundation does and why Rhino Africa is proud to be an Operational Partner and supporter of The GWF Justicia campus. For 2017, Rhino Africa will also support 3,000 primary school children at the Justicia Open Learning Centre. We are excited to see how this rural community will be impacted through world-class digital education.”
Between 2016 and 2018 Good Work Foundation plans to add three new digital learning campuses (Justicia is the first of the three) to rural Mpumalanga province, all located close to the Greater Kruger National Park. In total four Mpumalanga-based campuses will service 500 young adults, 25 rural schools and more than 10,000 schoolchildren.
In the battle to make the world a better place, it seems like GWF is making all the right moves and pulling out all the right weapons.
And you too can help!
It’s Rhino Africa's vision to leverage our authority in travel to support education and conservation in Africa, and to ensure its sustainable development. By travelling and booking with Rhino Africa, our clients help uplift local communities, enrich lives, fund conservation projects, and make a tangible impact in Africa’s wildlife, landscapes, and people.
For more information on how to get involved or donate to GWF, please contact Rhino Africa’s CSR Manager: Teresa van der Bank firstname.lastname@example.org