26 June 2013

South Africa: Gugulethu Primary School Invigorates Classroom Learning

The word Lwazi means knowledge, and it seems that Lwazi Public Primary School in Gugulethu is appropriately named.

The school is making innovative use of technology in the classroom by way of two donated school libraries. One of these libraries is essentially an advanced computer lab and was opened by the Minister of Public Enterprises on 17 May.

The new resource facilitates classroom learning. "This makes teaching so exciting and easy because there is also a station where I give the learners instructions and if they are confused I tell them to look at the whiteboard which will reflect the instructions," said a grade 7 teacher Mr. Mathebula. The whiteboard is a new projector screen, which instructors use to display lesson plans and graphics to entire classes.

The lab, worth R1.2 million, was funded by the Eskom Development Foundation and features 50 computers with internet access. Students have fully embraced the new technology. "The learners have even started to understand how to use a computer, and I just assist them with putting on passwords," Mathebula said.

It is not just the teachers that appreciate the lab though. Grade 4 pupil, Ezethu Ruleni, age 9, said, "Having the two libraries at my school makes me happy because I will learn to read English better and using the computer helps me with school assignments."

Grade 1 teacher, Phumla Klass, who teaches a class of 43 students, similarly commented that the parents seem excited about their children being introduced to computers in school. "Eskom even donated school bags to the learners," she said, noting the extensive generosity of the Foundation. As a trained librarian, she is the coordinator of the second more traditional book library, which was donated by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and opened on 25 May.

"I trained with other teachers at Kuilsriver with the WCED program and after they did a follow-up, I told them the school does not have a structure and an environment for reading so they provided us with a library," said Klass about the conception of the book library project. She said they have not started using the library formally as it arrived in the middle of exams. The school plans to begin formal use following the break. "We'll be starting from grade R to introduce it to learners and it's good because it will provide discipline for learners. However, our learners in grade 6 recently competed in a reading competition at the community library with other schools and they won," Ms. Klass said proudly.

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