Social Coding SA brings tech to rural schools

Johannesburg – An inclusion of a rural child in the digital world has always been at the heart Thembiso Magajana’s ambition.

Magajana is the founder of Social Coding SA, a skills development company that wants to ensure that rural communities have access to technology and are tech-savvy.

The company in collaboration with Ga-Mphahlele Homecoming, a non-profit organisation based in Ga-Mphahlele that launched a remote-learning project this week at Segopotje Secondary School in Mashite village, Limpopo.

The two-week programme will benefit 67 grade 12 pupils from the school who are doing mathematics through WhatsApp. The aim of the project is to mitigate the socio-economic challenges that came under the spotlight since March 2020 when the country implemented the Covid-19 nationwide lock-down.

“The learners are given mathematics study guides every day for two hours, then attend an online class via WhatsApp. At the end of each lesson, learners will complete a quiz and at the end of each week, the learners will complete a formative assessment in a quiz form,” said Magajana.

“There are seven WhatsApp groups, each with maximum of 10 learners and a facilitator.”

She said some of the challenges they experienced was the high cost of data and they could only afford to buy WhatsApp data for the pupils.

Thembiso Magajana

“Data is expensive and not everyone can afford it. So we are saying if network companies can sell social data, how about they sell educational data bundles that way it will be cheaper and we will be able to accommodate more learners.”

Magajana said the pilot went well and the excitement from the pupils was overwhelming. Social Coding SA intended to use this project to pilot a model of remote-learning for rural schools that would help address the problem of unqualified teachers in rural communities in the near future.

“We will use this pilot to propose a demo learning programme for rural areas. We will also use this model to improve the quality of mathematics education by ensuring that experience mathematic teachers’ videos are shared across multiple schools”.

“We will consider the pilot project a success if at least 50% of the learners achieve an average of more than 60% in the weekly assessments. When this pilot ends in two weeks, we will use the feedback to aggressively advocate for more funding from big companies so that learners from rural communities are not left behind.”

Senate Mphahlele, a grade 12 pupils, said: “I learnt a lot and I believe my mathematics results will improve”. Paballo Rachuene, another pupil, said: “When you lack resources, you will think mathematics is a difficult subject?” School principal Molongwane Chidi believed the project will improve the school’s results at the end of the year.

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