USING TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE LEARNING
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.