NATIONAL NEWS - Telecommunications companies MTN, Cell C and Rain have zero-rated internet browsing for an online maths education programme that features a combination of the recently revised curriculum.
The OLICO Maths Education Programme part-funded by the Datatec Education and Technology Foundation was launched in 2008. They provide effective after-school tutoring and training.
The app is embedded with puzzles, problem-solving activities, competitions, games and weekly challenges to keep learners busy, connected and engaged.
With many schools across South Africa digitising their curriculum due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the digital gap was once again exposed in under-resourced youth in the country’s townships. Some learners do not have access to the internet at home or can not afford to buy data.
Andrew Barret, co-founder and national coordinator of OLICO said: “It’s well-documented that knowledge retention suffers over school holiday breaks during normal times.
“So there is a real concern for the damage this lockdown is doing, especially on Grade 8 and 9 learners who are only scheduled to resume school in August, that’s why remote-support through WhatsApp and zero-rated educational sites, like ours, can be a vital lifeline.”
The company is actively operating in many townships such as Alexandra, Diepsloot, Bosmont, and partners using OLICO maths content are working in Soweto, Ivory Park, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and deep-rural Eastern Cape.
The free online version of the programme has more than 28,000 interactive questions and 376 tutorial videos, worksheets for sharing, tutoring and discussion over WhatsApp.
Tutors call or message the learners each morning, and then track their progress through WhatsApp or online.
“We have about 680 learners on WhatsApp, which is about 60% of the high-school learners we would usually work with.
“Access to smartphone devices and data are the main barriers to access for the other learners. The three telcos have really helped us address one part of the challenge. We’re hoping Vodacom and Telkom confirm their interest, and we’re in the process of trying to procure entry-level smartphone devices,” says Barret.
(Compiled by Sandisiwe Mbhele)