Multinational ICT giant IBM is rolling out its KidSmart Early Learning Programme across South Africa in an effort to help bridge the digital divide and improve early child learning, access and opportunities to children between the ages of three and six.
The programme aims to improve the quality of classroom learning through the integration of technology, improved professional development and teacher support. Young Explorer Computing Centres are part of the KidSmart Early Learning programme. These centres are used to house Young Explorer units, which are specialised computer workstations.
LITERACY AND NUMERACY
Starting in January this year, IBM, under guidance from the Eastern Cape Department of Education, began work with 50 pre-schools across that province, providing learners with access to a specialised computer system designed to help with conceptual learning for literacy and numeracy in the foundation phases.
Using the “Young Explorer” units and its accompanying software, learners are able to calculate numbers, construct sentences and play educational games on the computer to learn in a fun, tech-orientated way. Children in King Williams Town and Uitenhage are already using this programme, which has also been designed specifically to align to the new Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).
“This partnership with the provincial education department is key to improving the standard of numeracy and literacy in the Eastern Cape,” said IBM South Africa corporate affairs manager Sydney Hadebe.
PRE-SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT CRITICAL
Hadebe said developing children at pre-school level was critical for improving the standard of education in South Africa and with critical mass could address the performance of pupils in the province. He also believes that in working with children at the pre-school level will ensure that better performance from students in the province in the years to come.
IBM is working alongside the National Department of Basic Education to roll the programme out in pre-schools in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and more recently in Johannesburg, and is monitoring the impact of the programme to derive the best practices which can be shared among the schools.
10 YEARS OF KIDSMART IN SA
IBM delivers the KidSmart programme in more than 50 countries around the world. In South Africa the KidSmart programme celebrated 10 years in 2011 and recently donated more than 1 000 “Young Explorer” units to disadvantaged communities in five provinces.
“The KidSmart programme has reached more than 125 000 children and has stimulated innovation in teaching and learning methods in early education across the globe,” said Hadebe, adding that the programme is proving effective as a catalyst to further development, both at policy and practitioner levels.
Since the inception of the KidSmart Early Learning Programme in 1998, IBM has invested more than $133-million, donating more than 60 000 Young Explorers to schools and non profit organisation in 60 countries, reaching more than 105 000 teachers and serves more than 10-million students.