n education fairy tale is unfolding in a poor, remote Mpumalanga village on the border of Swaziland.
The introduction of simple tablet computers six months ago to the children in Sohlazane Primary School in the village of Nhlazatshe has dramatically improved their mathematics results. They have boosted their Annual National Assessment (ANA) results fourfold – from 10% to 40%.
“The ANA used to beat us,” said Sohlazane principal Mamaki Luphoko from her modest office. “But we saw a marked improvement in the ANA we wrote last year.
“It is only 15 tablets that we have, but the impact is beyond our expectations.”
Sohlazane is one of three schools to benefit from textbook publisher Via Afrika Digital Education Centre’s initiative. It has also been introduced in Thabantsho Primary School in Bochum, Limpopo, and Itumeleng Primary School in Odendaalsrus in the Free State.
In all these schools, Via Afrika gave their container libraries 15 Android tablets and provided 3G connectivity. Teachers were then trained in the ins and outs of e-books and e-learning. The school’s ANA maths results shot up from an average of 17% to 51% in only six months.
Luphoko said the teachers were also trained in the migration from textbooks to tablets.
For both the children and the teachers, the digital library is a place of pleasure.
“I think they like using the tablets more than sitting in a class because they see videos and other things. So they concentrate and do well,” said Grade 5 maths teacher Mania Gininda.
“Whatever they do in class, they come and repeat here … it’s like revision for them. I think it encourages them to see the ticks