Teachers need to be trained to use technology effectively in the classroom environment. It is for this reason that education technology provider Mwabu has launched a new CAPS-aligned product for primary schools and teachers in South Africa.
“The truth is, over 70 percent of Maths teachers in this country do not have Grade 4 maths that they are teaching, we can have the best technology or tablets and best content in the world but if you are responsible for imparting your knowledge, you have to know what you are talking about and guide yourself through it so that makes sense to the people who are listening,” said Mwabu, Marketing Director, Jenny Gordon.
According to a study conducted by the South African Department of Education, there are over 400 000 teachers across the country who are under qualified or not qualified at all. It is clear from the numbers that serious intervention is required.
Mwabu has launched an Academy for teachers that aims to change and improve teaching whilst enhancing continuous learning. The e-learning company also offers products for educators to access tips and training resources, as well as class management tools and reporting dashboards.
Jenny said, “We launched the Mwabu Academy where we have content that has teacher tips that guide teachers on the sort of questions to ask learners and make teaching better. The tips also have answers to questions and a timer that informs the teacher about the time it should take for the problem to be solved.”
“Having the answer makes the teacher concentrate on teaching rather than worrying about the right answer,” she adds.
The content on the tablet is about guiding the teachers more than it is about the student. It is an approach that is aimed at changing educational development. Resources available to teachers also include comprehensive lesson plans, interactive lessons and highly useful teacher’s tips.
It is not only the responsibility of schools to ensure that children get educated, parents need to play a part in the education of their children too. Mwabu has launched a home version of their software in Zambia and they hope to introduce the same in South Africa soon. The home version is mainly directed at improving the educational skills of parents.
“Parents can sit with their children with the tablet and do some revision, tests and read together. The benefit of the tablet is that it can be passed around from one room to another, it can be charged through the day and be used in the afternoon,” said Jenny.
In a bid to keep things local, Mwabu partnered with Onyx Connect in South Africa earlier this year to have the tablets manufactured locally which resulted in a decrease in the price of the tablet.
Jenny said, “Previously we were bringing in tablets from China and partnering with Onyx meant that we could produce and manufacture everything here in South Africa, so we were not sending any employment out of the country, and for us it is not just about creating tablets for learners, it is about the community and keeping jobs local.”
The tablet is a means to get to the content, if one has their own device they can download the content onto their own machine. The content is made available on the web or from a mirco-server in the local community.
Mwabu has also partnered with the Mr Price Foundation, to improve the educational standards in rural schools. Mr Price Foundation will be bringing another 40 schools into the project as well.
Mwabu is not about replacing the teachers or saying the department is not doing a great job, but, according to the company, they are trying to make things better and develop teachers as well.
“Teaching is moving away from the “chalk and talk approach” where teachers just say things to learners and hope it sticks, children are being challenged to interact and ask questions especially if they don’t understand, concludes Jenny.