Life changing iPads

Johan Wepener and Bone minnaar with teachers of Sedibeng after the handing over of the iPads
Johan Wepener and Bone minnaar with teachers of Sedibeng after the handing over of the iPads

Leoni Kruger
LEPHALALE — Sedibeng Combined School consists of 30 hearing impaired learners and through a sponsorship by Exxaro in cooperation with iSchools Africa, the hearing impaired section of the school received an iPad 1:1 rollout including all the hardware for a connected classroom as well as a specialized iPad teacher training programme. The equipment was delivered on 17 April 2015 and the project was officially launched on 2 October 2015.
The 1:1 rollout made it possible for all the hearing impaired learners to use the iPad in their lessons and teachers Tessa Pugh, Alice Makgato and assistant Calvin Macheko used the iPads in all their subjects, focussing on South African Sign Language (SASL) and vocational training.
“Hearing impaired learners enjoy iPad lessons because they are visual. There is a sense of wanting to learn which with normal classwork does not exist. With the iPad they are not easily bored, they stay visually engaged all the time” says Tessa Pugh, hearing teacher for grade 1-5.
In the SASL curriculum, results show that in a year’s time there has been an increase of 2.5% (from 51.3% to 53.8%) in results of the foundation to junior phase. In the senior phase there was an increase of 7.9% (from 45.4% to 53.3%).
The English marks increase by overall 3.4% in the school, life skills increased by 7% overall and mathematics increased by 0.3% overall (it shows a problem area that has to be addressed).
On Thursday 8 September, Phase 2 of the programme was launched at Sedibeng School in Onverwacht as part of the Exxaro Grootegeluk programme in cooperation with iSchool Africa.
Bone Minnaar, principal at Sedibeng, said in his welcoming address that he underestimated the persistency of Christine Wolmarans, Education Programme Manager at Exxaro Resource, when she promised to look into the matter of iPads for the school two years ago. “We didn’t think it would become reality, but we couldn’t be more wrong to misjudge her” he said.
He said Christine phoned him in the beginning of 2016 to tell him that Exxaro was going to invest in Sedibeng School again, but this time in the department for learning disabilities. “And today we received another bunch of iPads” he said.
He thanked Johan Wepener, General Manager of Exxaro Resources Limited, for his constant support – “we ask and you give” he said. He also thanked Leatitia de Jager and Karen Hart from iSchool Africa for their involvement and support.
Christine Wolmarans said the purpose of the gathering was firstly to look back at the tremendous progress with the learners after they started using iPads but it is also to introduce a new phase.
Karen said she applauds the teachers – without them they couldn’t do it. “We had dedicated teachers at Sedibeng and because they are amazing, we can be more amazing” she said.
Johan Wepener said it has been a humbling experience for him. “We tend to get so tired of our day to day duties and tasks that we forget about the needs of others” he said. He thanked the teachers for their assistance in the project and that they need to stay on top of their game. “I can supply the technology, but teachers have to make it work”.
“Life is changing through technology and innovation and the results of this project is enough feedback for us to know that it was the best option. 7% improvement for these children is great” he remarked.
Limitations are in your mind – let’s create space and freedom for every individual to reach his or her capacity. The return on this investment will be about the amount of difference we make in the lives of people to be part of the mainstream and this will get exponentially important” Wepener concluded.

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