At least 78% of South Africa’s Grade 4 pupils are currently functionally illiterate. That’s almost eight out of every 10 children.
Unesco has reported that Covid-19 crisis has disrupted children’s learning at an unprecedented scale.
Covid-19 has also magnified the pre-existing inequalities when it comes to accessing meaningful learning opportunities.
Last month, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga revealed that teaching losses since the advent of the pandemic in 2020 would likely affect many pupils for decades to come.
The rapid shift to remote learning also highlighted the country’s immense digital divide in connectivity, infrastructure and the ability to engage with technology.
To help address this challenge, Saray Khumalo – in partnership with iSchoolAfrica, iStore and fibre network operator Vumatel – announced the rollout of iPad Digital Libraries to eight under-resourced schools.
The partnership has reached more than 1,200 pupils to date through the iSchoolAfrica Digital Library Programme.
“The digital divide has the potential to be the greatest divide of all, deepening inequalities that already exist,” said Khumalo.
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“The iSchoolAfrica Digital Library Programme has a serious purpose – to bridge this divide for children who don’t have access to information technology and to ensure that they don’t get left behind,” added Khumalo.
Each iSchoolAfrica Digital Library consists of a mobile iPad lab, which offers abundant fibre connectivity, 10 iPads, a digital content library, teacher training and mentorship programmes.
Sponsors, including Momentum Multiply, Syrex and Planet Fitness, also donated to the programme.
Vumatel says it believes that access to technology and connectivity creates exponential opportunities.
“Initiatives like the rolling out of the iSchoolAfrica Digital Library Programme enable significant access to opportunities for children across South Africa, and ultimately will positively impact our country’s economy,” says Lianne Williams, head of marketing at Vuma.
This year, on 8 September 2021, Unesco’s International Literacy Day will be celebrated under the theme “Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide”.
The group is calling on South Africans and the corporate sector to donate and address this critical need.
“International Literacy Day reminds us of the importance of literacy as a matter of human rights. iSchoolAfrica makes the process of learning literacy accessible, inclusive and suitable for today’s world,” said Michelle Lissoos, iSchoolAfrica director.
If you would like to contribute, please visit ischoolafrica.com/digital-libraries-programme. Corporates who would like to sponsor a primary school with a digital library should please contact Michelle@ischoolafrica.com.