Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

OLICO IS A not-for- profit com­mu­nity- based aca­demic sup­port ini­tia­tive for town­ship school youth. OLICO and an­other civic en­deav­our, Ikam­vaYouth, have joined forces with the West­ern Cape ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment’s ‘ Year Be­yond’ ini­tia­tive ( YeBo). YeBo is a youth devel­op­ment pro­gramme that caters for learn­ers in grades 1 to 4 and 8 to 10, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with a se­lec­tion of NGOs (in­clud­ing the Shine Cen­tre and FunDza).

To­gether, th­ese or­gan­i­sa­tions have em­barked on a project that could rev­o­lu­tionise the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, and im­prove the lives of many learn­ers. It’s an am­bi­tious plan, but it is be­ing adopted with open arms by schools that are des­per­ate to im­prove their low ma­tric pass rates.

YeBo sup­plies the work­force, in the form of vol­un­teers – young post- ma­tric­u­lants who are do­ing a ‘gap year’ be­fore ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, or who sim­ply want to help the com­mu­nity. Ikam­vaYouth has a tried and tested sys­tem for us­ing th­ese vol­un­teers to as­sist their younger, less priv­i­leged coun­ter­parts, in find­ing prob­lem ar­eas in the syl­labus, and guiding them to catch up. And OLICO has de­vel­oped a web- based com­puter sys­tem that pro­vides video tu­ition, ex­er­cises and on­go­ing mon­i­tor­ing of each stu­dent’s progress.

The YeBo vol­un­teers have un­der­gone in­ten­sive train­ing with Ikam­vaYouth, learn­ing how to men­tor learn­ers and also how to use the soft­ware pro­vided by OLICO. The web-based sys­tem pro­vides a sim­ple, dis­trac­tion-free in­ter­face that guides each learner at their own pace through a process of pre-testing, video learn­ing, post-testing and re­vi­sion. The maths and lit­er­acy syl­labus is bro­ken down into mod­ules, and learn­ers have to achieve 80% in a mod­ule be­fore they can progress to the next. At the end of each mod­ule, a fi­nal test in­cludes ques­tions from pre­vi­ous mod­ules, to pick up if some­thing has been forgotten and needs to be re­in­forced.

Since 2013, OLICO has run a pi­lot project in Diep­sloot north of Jo­han­nes­burg that used com­puter-aided learn­ing to as­sist a small group of learn­ers in the area. Last year, 83% of those who en­rolled and com­pleted the six-month course im­proved their Num­ber Sense Cur­ricu­lum by an av­er­age of 35% and their Foun­da­tional Cur­ricu­lum by 47%. For many, this meant go­ing from a fail­ing grade to a healthy pass mark.

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