Syafunda Digital to boost maths, science literacy
By Kgaogelo Letsebe, Portals journalist
Johannesburg, 19 Jul 2017
Students are able to download maths and science e-books, video tutorials, past papers and worksheets from the Syafunda Digital Library free of charge.
Syafunda Digital, with the help of the Department of Education, Dimension Data and Virgin Unite, is distributing educational digital content to 80 000 students in 47 schools across the country.
Through its Syafunda Digital Library in schools, community centres and libraries, students are able to download maths and science e-books, video tutorials, past papers and worksheets from the library free of charge.
“Once a student is registered with us, they can do assessments and quizzes to practice as well as compete and engage with teachers and students from different schools,” explains founder and senior managing partner Zakheni Ngubo.
“The students also have access to educational, entrepreneurship and IT content on their mobile device for free without the high cost related to Internet access.”
The platform gives students access to digital skills, entrepreneurship and career guidance. It also provides monthly analytics and student data to sponsors for impact assessment, marketing and public relations purposes.
Ngubo explains that his frustration at not having a mathematics teacher during his final two years in high school led him to establish Syafunda.
“When I started working, in the mobile sector at Virgin Mobile, I knew I had to find a way to use the technology in a very productive way because a person’s future is not determined or limited by their background or financial status but by information and access to available opportunities.”
Through the platform’s “Adopt A School” campaign, organisations adopt a school by covering the annual costs of setting up and managing a Syafunda Digital Library in a school or centre of their choosing, and in so doing, allow over 1 500 students to gain access to the various materials.
Ngubo adds that of an estimated 3.5 million high school learners between the ages of 15 and 19, about 76% own or have access to a mobile device. “Access to hardware alone without relevant content and software does not aid in the education process. The majority of digital content in education is either too technical and therefore intimidating or irrelevant in the South African context.”
The platform’s content is accredited by the Department of Education, which vets and approves the methodology and language policy and assists in developing teacher training material. It is also in partnership with the Technology Innovation Agency and Durban University of Technology for hardware research and development.
He acknowledges it is difficult to get solutions integrated and implemented in the public school sector, but still aims to expand its reach to 500 schools, 200 public libraries and 100 community centres by 2019.
“Education removes the burden of isolation and levels the playing field between socio-economic classes. Increasing literacy skills, particularly in maths and science, gives learners the ability to find solutions to problems. Africa is in need of unique and local solutions to our unique challenges and therefore we have to equip our young people to drive those solutions and innovations,” he noted.