A South African tech company is breaking down barriers for pupils to access affordable remote learning in a bid to help salvage the academic school year.
Jendamark Automation has come up with an
e-learning solution that is already proving useful for rural and lower quintile
As part of its Odin Education software system, the company has developed an e-learning device that provides affordable access to curriculum-specific educational material for schools anywhere in the country.
Roll-out of the devices began at the end of June, with more than 600 deployed across rural Free State schools and 75 purchased for grade 12 pupils from Nelson Mandela Bay schools enrolled in the Unity in Africa Foundation’s Incubating Great Engineering Minds (iGEMS) after-school programme.
To mark Mandela Month, Jendamark donated a further 114 devices to grade 11s at Nqweba Secondary in Graaff-Reinet
The android educational tablet, known as Omang – ‘identity’ in Sesotho – is loaded with content from educational publishers, with free data supplied by leading network providers.
Content is specific to each school’s curriculum requirements – including textbooks, approved educational websites and any e-learning platforms or apps it may already be using.
“This is not just about textbooks on tablets. This is about bringing costs down through collaboration to create a truly affordable ed-tech solution for every South African school, with no hidden costs,” Jendamark group MD Quinton Uren says.
“We want every child to have access to a world of knowledge wherever they are – at home, in the classroom, on a taxi, anywhere and anytime.”
Each device is personalised to the pupil’s registered subjects, with bonus website content added based on their interests and most-viewed topics online. Teachers can also upload content, including video lessons, old exam papers and notes, as well being able to set multiple-choice tests, and answer questions via safe class chat forums.
“No matter where learners sit, they can still study,” says Putsoe Modukanele, principal of Olien Secondary School in Fauresmith.
“With the Omang device we can keep up with the times and teach beyond the classroom.”
The coronavirus highlighted the immediate need to speed up digital education for remote learning, says Jendamark’s head of Odin Education, Ajit Gopalakrishnan.
“In this digital world, there is no shortage of quality educational content, but access to that content and to devices like phones or tablets is a real obstacle for many South African children.
“We know data is also an issue, so our devices are pre-loaded with a set amount per learner, which can be managed as the school chooses.”
The user can be locked out of the device is stolen or lost, rendering it valueless to would-be thieves.
Unity in Africa Foundation GM Berenice Rose says providing additional maths and science classes and support for iGEMS pupils had been challenging during the lockdown.
“Right now it is very important for us to remain at the cutting edge of content delivery. Kids need to be very resilient, as their whole educational path is just obstacle after obstacle,” Rose says.
“Through our collaboration, we will be able to teach them and communicate directly through these devices, so that they can carry on with their academic progress.”
Grade 12 pupil Xhanti Qandana says: “We are excited. This is huge for us, as we come from very underprivileged homes. It’s like having a second teacher.”
The pre-loaded devices can be bought by schools or provincial education departments at a monthly cost of R134 per pupil, including 2GB of data and full tech support.
For more information, visit www.odineducation.co.za