Merchants & Social Coding support matric learners through remote learning program
As part of its collaboration with local skills development company, Social Coding, Merchants assisted to develop and run a remote learning development program for 67 matric learners in Mashite, in rural Limpopo, in just three days.
Lockdown Challenges Matrics
“When president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that we were moving into a two-week lockdown and schools would be closed with immediate effect, I knew something drastic needed to be done to assist the matric learners at Segopotje Secondary School – specifically those studying Maths and Physical Science. For this kind of school in a rural area, there is no pivot to online learning – digital exclusion is hauntingly real for these learners. Last year, 14 matric learners failed the year, due to lack of access to teachers and study material,” explains Thembiso Magajana, founder of Social Coding, who run a pioneer program at the school that is aimed at building digital skills.
“I immediately reached out to the Merchants team, and we came up with the revolutionary idea to develop the Remote Learning Development Program – which bridges the gap between the learners and the facilitators, and completely eliminates the barrier to entry around access to technology.”
Education Goes Digital
Within three days, the teams had contacted the best Maths and Science teachers in Mashite and mobilised a film crew to travel into the area – which is situated 2,5 hours outside of the nearest town. The teachers were provided with the latest text books and filmed going through the syllabus. The recorded learning modules were loaded on to tablets, which were then distributed to each of the matric learners.
Further to this, former alumni from the school were contacted and agreed to spend 2 hours a day tutoring students via private Whatsapp groups – where one tutor was assigned to every ten students.
“The reaction from the students was overwhelming,” explains Magajana. “We even had requests to extend the hours for the tutoring sessions from 2 hours to 4 hours a day.” To assess the effectiveness of the program, the teachers were asked to develop weekly assessments for the students and the results speak for themselves:
- The program had a 100% attendance rate across the Maths and Science learners.
- 78% of the Maths students scored above 50% for their assignments.
- 51% of students achieved distinctions across all the assignments.
- 71% of students achieved 60% and above for all the assignments.
Going Beyond Broadband
Magajana notes that working to develop untapped talent in the country has to go beyond access to the internet. “Many businesses and brands focus on providing access to the internet to more rural areas in South Africa, and while this certainly has a role to play in the fight against digital exclusion – it is not always the right solution to every problem. These students have to travel more than two hours to access a computer – the bigger issue here is adoption of technology. Our collaboration with Merchants allowed us to develop and run with a life-changing idea for South Africa’s youth in record timing. This would not have been possible without their support, and most importantly, their guidance and experience – and this is what corporate philanthropy should be about,” she says.
“This unconventional collaboration between Merchants and Social Coding continues to surprise us, as we break barriers to entry for the youth, change the face of technology at a grassroots level and assist in building critical digital skills for the future talent pipeline in our country. Thembiso and her team inspire us to do better, be better and continue to push the boundaries of corporate partnerships every day,” concludes Mathew Conn, Group Chief Revenue Officer at Merchants.