iSchool Africa Digital Library

Posted on Posted in School, Sponsors

Our aim to provide a quality primary education, has to be founded in improving literacy and numeracy. Attaining this goal is a prerequisite for a achieving a quality education beyond primary school and hence to achieving socio-economic development.

Improving access to relevant reading material

Through our partnerships with organisations like Book Dash, the learners at African Angels have had access to locally written and illustrated story books at school. However, to create voracious readers, we continually need more relevant and exciting story books.

Through our partnerships with organisations like Book Dash, the learners at African Angels have had access to locally written and illustrated story books at school.  However, to create voracious readers, we continually need more relevant and exciting story books.  

Enter iSchool Africa! 

We are thrilled to be the first school in the Eastern Cape (and the 4th school nationally) to receive the iSchoolAfrica Digital Library, giving our children access to a huge selection of books, through the Snapplify software. The Digital Library programme includes previously owned iPads, a library from Snapplify Foundation, curriculum content, the onebillion numeracy app and teacher training by iSchool Africa.  

This donation was made possible by award winning mountaineer Saray Khumalo, Author Cindy van Wyk, Momentum Multiply, Vumatel, and Planet Fitness who broke the Guinness World Book of Records by raising the most money in an 8-hour static cycling event. They will use these funds to put an iSchool Digital Library into one school in each of the 9 provinces.

Our partnership with iSchoolAfrica which began on 31 March is helping us to address the literacy crisis so each and every child can reach their full potential. With the introduction of the iSchools Digital Library and the iPad platform to read from, our learners have access to the whole Snapplify digital library for free. Culturally and contextually relevant books can be downloaded via the school’s wifi and then read off-line at any time or location. We also have access to the global, award-winning onebillion numeracy software. The onebillion programme teaches core maths concepts and supports the CAPS curriculum.

The iSchoolAfrica Digital Library includes:

  • A mobile iPad lab preloaded with apps to support CAPS (South African Curriculum)
  • An iSchoolAfrica facilitator, Erna Schnautz, who works closely with our teachers to help them understand and incorporate the iPads and software into their teaching practices.
  • Training modules. Some of which are SACE (South African Council of Education) endorsed and give teachers points towards their continuous professional teacher development (CPD)
  • Ongoing support and mentoring within the school
  • Appointment of school champion for sustainability
  • Monitoring and reporting of attitudinal and performance shifts

Each tablet can be shared by multiple children each day. The software adapts to the level of each child, with no need for individual logins. Children learn at their own pace, accessing personalised learning sessions in both numeracy and literacy at their level.
Every learner proceeds at their own pace and gets immediate feedback.  The impact is measurable and each child’s progress is tracked.   

Access to the technology and software alone is not enough

While access to this technology will take us some way towards improving the education of our African Angels, it will be the integration of the programmes by our teachers into their daily teaching schedule which will accelerate our learners’ ability to improve their skills.

Like the developers of the iSchool Africa programme, we believe that it is the development of our teachers which will give the learners the digital, literacy and numeracy skills they need to escape their current poverty.

Erna Schnautz is the iSchool facilitator for African Angels. She visits the school late least once each month to help the teachers implement the iSchool Digital Library into their lessons. She says, “I am impressed by the enthusiasm of the teachers for this programme. I often find teachers are nervous to get started, but the African Angels staff were up and running before I had even finished the baseline tests. Their passion is reflected in the classroom environment, in the behaviour of the children and in the results of the baseline tests I have conducted. I have found the children to be disciplined, happy and courteous.” 

African Angels Principal, Sharon Edworthy says, “We are very excited about the development opportunities that the programme will bring for our teaching staff. They are an incredibly dedicated group of people and we are thrilled to be able to help them, with the training and mentorship offered by iSchoolAfrica, to improve their personal teaching skills, gain CPD points and develop their own careers.”

Laetitia de Jager, iSchoolAfrica Programme Manager says, “iSchoolAfrica has one key goal – to change the lives of South African youth by giving them access to the most advanced educational technology and classroom practices. We are privileged to partner with African Angels Independent school who shares this vision and changes lives of learners in their community on a daily basis.

“It is humbling to see the difference the school makes in every learner’s life with the limited resources available to them. The school is not just an excellent academic institution, but a happy and safe home for so many learners in the community. This wouldn’t be possible if not for the passion Lou, Sharon and their incredible team have for the community of Chintsa. 

“The iSchoolAfrica programme combined with the teachers’ passion for education, will most definitely result in learners with a love for learning and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

– Laetitia de Jager, iSchoolAfrica Programme Manager