The battle to end all multiplication battles was underway at Ukhanyo Primary School last Friday. Olico Maths had set the stage and the agenda was apparent – they were looking for a champion in every grade who would take the crown of undisputed Virtual Times-Tables Maths champion 2020.
Ukhanyo stepped up to the challenge with unrivalled determination – the children’s unwavering fixation on the lineup of star-studded prizes saw them off to a 30-minute battle between schools from the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and the Western Cape – where they had the opportunity to answer as many questions as possible in their personal best time.
It wasn’t just the children who were amped – teachers from Ukhanyo Primary School as well as Masicorp’s Maths Lab programme leader encouraged the children and acted like fully-fledged cheerleaders and motivational support from the side-lines.
Highlighting the Necessity for Virtual Learning Opportunities in Masi
The Olico Virtual Times-Tables Challenge 2020 was the first of its kind to be held via Zoom due to the impact of Covid-19. Schools across the country joined the virtual meeting and students could access the competition from a PC or from a smartphone that had the capability to download and play the Two Minute Tango app.
While we take our smartphones and computers for granted as an extension of ourselves – especially in these unprecedented times, we need to stop and remember that people living in disadvantaged communities like Masiphumelele do not always have access to these devices. Right off the bat as the challenge went live, there was an immediate need for another smartphone that could float around the class, so that all the children could have a turn completing their best set.
It is only when Virtual learning events such as these launch in a school like Ukhanyo, do we see the vast gap between what we are capable of and what is really happening on the ground. The fact that educational apps for students like Two Minute Tango from Olico Maths are available is a fantastic initiative that drives learner engagement. However, when it comes to implementing that engagement – especially in a community like Masi, we are left with a far harsher reality. It’s not just a device-specific issue either, while some may even own the device – airtime for data or a fixed internet line is simply out of reach. We all need to do more, as accountable South Africans, we need to take a stand for equality across our beloved country.
Teachers Thinking Beyond the Classroom
Introducing Thula – Masicorp’s programme leader for the Maths Lab at Ukhanyo Primary School. Thula’s day is usually snowed in by her work with the children and all the preparation that goes into making Maths fun and achievable for children who struggle with the subject.
This incredible woman has the foresight and determination to keep our Maths Lab programme at Ukhanyo Primary School a cut above the rest – even with her busy schedule. She initiated the challenge and then approached one of the teachers to assist her with selecting children and to support practice sessions for the virtual challenge. It can be a laborious task to get teachers to support and promote these kinds of activities as they do not specifically focus on the curriculum but rather reinforce it.
Thula’s resourcefulness paid off and in no time one of the teachers at Ukhanyo was chanting the times-tables in her sleep because she had seen just how much the competition had helped some of her learners last year. This paved the way for Masicorp and Ukhanyo to partner on this challenge and in so doing – helping children from Masi achieve more.
Thula has been an inspiration at Masicorp – handling problems with intuitive thinking. She recalls an instance where a child was struggling to grasp mathematical concepts, so, she simply asked him if he understood money? The student said he did and in no time at all – once Rand values were applied to Mathematical formulas, the learner grasped the core concepts and was off to a far better start in the Maths classroom.
“The best part about my work with Masicorp at Ukhanyo is seeing the change in the attitude of a learner towards mathematics and also seeing how much they love being successful. Once they’ve gotten something right they want more of that feeling of success. When I see a child doesn’t understand something, I can relate because I also felt that about Maths at school. I love the fact that I can make Maths fun for the kids, which is not what my experience was when I was at school. I also love being able to give back to my community.”
– Thula, Maths Lab Programme Leader at Ukhanyo Primary School.
Education is our Fishing Rod
Have you ever heard the saying give a man a fish and feed him for a day – but give a man a fishing rod and feed him for a lifetime?
We believe that education is the surest route out from poverty and to a better life not just for an individual but rather for a community. When we look at some of our success stories, it seems as though one person has achieved so much but we forget the impact one person’s success can have in a community like Masiphumelele.
While one person may soar and reach the stars, a simple act of starting up a business that only employs local people filters down into the community and has an impact on a much larger scale. That is why Masicorp exists. We aim to slice through inequality and uplift people with quality education so that they may progress in life, wielding a fishing rod that has the power to feed a family and not just a single man.
Are you a fisher of men? Find out here.