Excellent use of technology in a poor school

Saturday, October 9th, 2010 | technology

A small school on the West Coast of South Africa did exceptionally well in the CAMI Speed Challenge, which was held in George yesterday and today.  This school is Riverlands Primary, serving a rural community in the farmlands between Atlantis and Malmesbury.

The principal, Jonathan Saunders, accompanied 23 finalists to the event.  The school has 242 learners, which means that nearly 10% of the school qualified as finalists for this challenge.  In the semi-finals 46 learners participated – 20% of the school population.

The principal and Grade 8 learners

Jonathan explained that the main reason for the school’s participation is to improve numeracy results.  All learners, from Grade 1 through to Grade 8, are exposed to technology with a view to honing their mathematics skills.  The top learners are then enrolled for the Speed Challenge.  Overall, learners are helped to improve their ability to perform mental maths, including multiplication tables.

The principal is committed to improving education in a disadvantaged community.  He said that one of the secondary benefits of participating in competitions of this nature is that it builds self-confidence in learners.  They sit side by side with learners of the top schools of the country – and often beat them.  This year Riverlands scored 1 first place in a grade, 2 second places and 2 third places – this equates to 5 medals!

The school received 20 computers from the Khanya Project, and won an interactive whiteboard in another competition a while ago.  One Grade 8 boy, Lucien Titus (left on the picture above), is a keen computer user.  He switches the computer, whiteboard and data projector on in the morning, and loads the required software for the day’s lessons before teaching starts.  “He knows far more about technology than most of us,” one of his teachers said. “When we get stuck, he solves the problem for us.”

Aside from using technology to build mathematical proficiency, it is also used in other learning areas.  For example, Grade 8 learners use presentation software to prepare and present oral work.

Many lessons can be learned from this school:

Wise use of technology can indeed lead to improved learner performance.

The lead of the principal is important.

When they get stuck teachers must not be scared to allow learners to help them.

Technology can serve as an equalizer in a system riddled with inequalities.

Well done Riverlands!  I applaud Jonathan Saunders, his team of dedicated teachers and the bold learners of the school for demonstrating how technology can make a difference in a school.

For the Afrikaans version of this posting, click here.

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4 Comments to Excellent use of technology in a poor school

Aletta Crofton
Sunday, 10 October, 2010

Congratulations to Riverlands and the winning learners!!!

Mark C
Sunday, 10 October, 2010

Congratulations to Riverlands primary. I like a principal that leads by example, but also learners and educators who not only follow but lead the way too. They are the ones who are currently making positive contributions to their communities. I would encourage them to keep on going and broaden their influence to others.

Monday, 11 October, 2010

A great pleasure to have visitors of such caliber – I have seen you last year and what a surprise to see so many of you this year!

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