Ed-tech support for pupils provides critical assistance after turbulent two years
Over 2,000 pupils in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State – many of them underprivileged – have been given a kickstart to the new school year thanks to a cutting-edge, South African-developed e-learning system.
The next province lined up to receive the unique e-learning system – which is being distributed privately through corporate social investment initiatives – is the Western Cape.
Developed by ed-tech business Odin Education, a division of Jendamark Automation, the system comprises a locked digital tablet that can only be used for educational purposes, curriculum-aligned content personalised for each user, and full-time online support.
The aim of the system is to supplement in-person schooling. Loaded with mobile data, leading educational apps and learning platforms, and tailored to each pupil’s subject choices, the device also gathers information from its user’s interactions and serves them more of the academic and extramural content in which they are interested.
Some 215 Grade 12 pupils at Gqeberha’s Woolhope Secondary School recently (January 25) received their digital devices, thanks to a sponsorship by SJM Flex, DG Capital and Rockwell Automation.
Speaking at the handover event, Woolhope principal AJ Jaram said Odin Education’s ed-tech system helped equip pupils for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which was changing the way the world lived and worked.
“This is magic,” Jaram said, in reference to the digital device. “I know that if this is used effectively, every pupil who has one will benefit.”
Student leader Beyonce Jacobs, who, together with some of her classmates, had the opportunity to trial the Odin Education system in the latter part of the disrupted 2021 school year, described the experience as “amazing” and said it helped deliver a 100% pass rate for her Grade 11 class.
Jacobs said she and her fellow pupils felt the pressure heading into their final year of schooling amid a third year of possible Covid-related disruptions.
“It’s quite stressful, not coming to school every day and knowing that there are trials and final exams coming up. The Odin Education system will take a bit of the pressure off because our textbooks are on it, plus it also has many more ways to explore and learn.”
Classmate Sinovuyo George added that the system represented a significant leap forward from the WhatsApp chat forums they had previously used for learning during lockdown.
“This is better, because there are videos explaining the entire lesson, among other learning resources.”
SJM Flex human resources manager Rajes Padayachie, herself a Woolhope alumna, said many of the company employees’ children attended the school.
“Our social responsibility initiatives are aimed at empowerment – of both our employees and the broader community.
“When we got this opportunity with Odin Education, we jumped in with both feet. We believe that enriching the lives and minds of young people is investing in a self-reliant, dynamic and independent generation.”
Padayachie said the company, which manufactures flexible couplings used in exhaust systems, would further incentivise the Grade 12s to get the most out of their devices and also explore ways to put additional devices in more learners’ hands.
For Rockwell Automation, one of the standout features of the Odin Education system was that it was designed in such a way that pupils couldn’t use the mobile data for social media or applications other than e-learning.
“Therefore, we are able to monitor the real value of the program to learners,” said industry account manager Devendree Ankiah.
Ankiah said making a tangible difference by providing access to educational resources, and having the opportunity to choose the beneficiary school they wanted to work with, were two of Odin Education’s main attractions.
“As a global leader in industrial automation and digital transformation, Rockwell Automation connects the imaginations of people with the potential of technology to expand what is humanly possible.
“We have invested heavily in STEM education and to collaborate with a company focused on education is something that speaks to our hearts.”
DG Capital director David Edwards said the national specialised financial services group was pleased to contribute to a worthy and sustainable initiative such as this.
“Through education is where our future opportunities lie and we regard education as the backbone of any promising career. Being able to support this cause by way of technological investment is a great way for DG Capital to assist in shaping the lives of our future leaders.”
According to Jendamark’s head of Odin Education, Ajit Gopalakrishnan, corporate social investment was key to getting more digital devices rolled out countrywide. “It’s a CSI programme that has a quantifiable impact and can be tailored to any company’s regional footprint, while also delivering real-time ROI impact reports and B-BBEE points in return.”