iPads are being used to boost literacy and numeracy at both public and private schools with great success. One such school is Clarence Primary in Greyville. The school is one of about 100 across South Africa using iPads supplied by iSchoolAfrica, an organisation that brings the best technologies and teaching practices to under-resourced schools.
Director Michelle Lissoos said the project started in 2011. “We have seen such an improvement in key areas such as numeracy, literacy and attendance. No one wants to miss a class.” said Lissoos. On a Sunday Tribune visit to Clarence Primary we found Grade 7 pupils engrossed in the various maths apps on the iPads.
Can maths really be that absorbing to lively 12-year-olds? “Yes.” said Shamini Sukdeo, maths teacher and iPad manager at the school. She said the iPad project was launched last year. “Maths has been thought of as boring but on the iPad kids don’t even realise how much they are learning and understanding. “Usage of the iPads is available for all grades. It’s wonderful to see children grasp concepts that they previously had difficulty with. The apps are especially brilliant for maths and English because they’re so interactive. With iBooks kids write their own stories and it’s amazing to see how they use their creativity.”
Grade seven pupil Samuel Ngwey, 12, said: “I am really enjoying learning using the iPad. I want to be a pilot, so I have to do well in maths.” His classmates, Ruth Mesele, Ramee Khan and Denedhiri Pillay, all 12, said the iPads made learning fun. Sukdeo said 16 teachers from her school were trained by iSchoolAfrica. And the response has been incredible.
“We ran two holiday camps using the iPads last year and the kids loved it. We have been promised 40 more iPads.” Principle Lynn Breytenbach said while technology will never replace a good teacher, this was an educational breakthrough. “There is such excitement and eagerness to learn. It is amazing the learning you can do with an iPad.”
Siphande Primary in rural Nkandla is another school that is part of the project. Principle Khanyifani Zulu said his school had been given 40 iPads. “We don’t even have computers at our school, but our children are being exposed to this kind of technology, which is great. We introduced the programme in the second term. The kids are so excited about it. When you walk into a classroom with the iPads, they cannot wait for the lesson to start.”
He said that the pupils have adopted a positive attitude to learning. Lissoos said schools are set up with 20 iPads preloaded with curriculum apps and a facilitator to train teachers to use the technology effectively. “The programme is quite flexible and can be used from pre-primary to grade 12. It’s very interactive and pupils enjoy being active because it’s personalised learning.” said Lissoos.
Nick Holmes, iSchoolAfrica KZN facilitator, said the impact on rural schools was profound. “iPads are user-friendly for rural schools where teachers have never owned a cellphone.”