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Education Software Technology

How Tech Is Transforming Teaching In a South African Township 26

An anonymous reader writes: The founders of the African School for Excellence have an ambitious goal — nothing less than redefining low cost, scalable teaching that brings international standards to the poorest schools in Africa. Their first model school is off to a good start: in just 18 months, all grade 9 students are achieving scores higher than 50% on Cambridge Curriculum Checkpoint tests, and only one student scored less than 50% in math. The national average score in math is 13%. The school relies on a locally designed piece of marking software to function. Their teach-to-pupil ratios are not great, but the teachers are committed to using technology to stretch themselves as far as they can. What's most remarkable is that the school's running costs are already half the cost of a traditional government school, and the quality of education is much, much better. All this, and they're only a year and a half into the program.
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How Tech Is Transforming Teaching In a South African Township

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  • Ubiquitous good education will do the world a lot of good.
  • At first I thought this is impossible, but then I found this: (Warning, PDF) http://www.education.gov.za/Li... [education.gov.za] This is a report on a standardised nation wide test. The average for grade 9 math is indeed ~13%.
  • Some really interesting ideas here, if you're lazy to RTFA:

    One of the primary goals is to foster curiosity in the kids (which is essentially internal motivation, one of the strongest forms).

    The kids often work in groups on tasks that are slightly above their current skill level, which teaches them cooperation and problem-solving.

    Teachers mainly come in to fill in gaps by answering questions and summarize what the kids learn.

    Then the kids spend time on Khan Academy or similar doing tests to make sure the

  • by codeButcher ( 223668 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @05:21AM (#48025757)

    the school's running costs are already half the cost of a traditional government school, and the quality of education is much, much better.

    The government will never stand for this sort of nonsense. It requires people to be as dumb as possible (to continue voting them into power), while having a fraction of the population being able to be nominally employed (taxes, to pay government officials' lavish salaries and benefits), while enough remain unemployable ("long live the struggle!").

    On a less sarcastic (not less serious) note: I believe that the population growth rate in SA outstrips the rate at which new schools are being built. Hence some investment firms see education (private schools and even homeschooling systems) as a viable niche market.

  • International Standards eh? Like my company management is always droning on about "World Standards". Actually, if you take the average of "International" quality standards, it's shit.
  • When educational programs first start they almost always have better than average results. Part of the reason is that the creators are committed to making the programs work. Once the programs are widely used, the results decline because the teachers are not as committed. While these results merit further trials, there is no guarantee that the results would be sustained when widely used.

    • Yeah - sorry, I'm the author of this and you're right. I did mention that it's early days but there's no guarantee it will scale at all. As other commenters have noted, it's all about the teachers and the attitude and then finding smart ways to amplify their efforts - but it all comes down to the quality of teachers first and foremost. One thing I didn't mention, though, is that the current plan is to train their own - so there's a group of teaching assistants who are all actually trainee teachers with vari
      • That's funny, because I watched this TED talk, where the guy explicitly states his teacher-free environment boosted a rural Indian school class to biochemistry levels well beyond the most prestigious private school in the country.

        https://www.ted.com/talks/suga... [ted.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      When experimental educational programs first start they almost always have better than average results. Part of the reason is that the creators are committed to making the programs work and excellent teachers are employed. Once the programs are widely used, the results decline because the ordinary teachers are not as committed and capable. While these results merit further trials, there is no guarantee that the results would be sustained when widely used.

      (in bold my inclusions)
      I agree.
      P.S. When i was a kid

    • There's also the novelty factor. Similar to the Hawthorne Effect.

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