From bottom of the class to the top

St Dunstan’s College in Benoni, Gauteng is the kind of school that aims to provide not only outstanding education, but a safe and nurturing environment for learners to achieve and grow. So when grade three teacher Jean Pollastrini noticed that a learner was struggling with her maths, and felt demotivated as a result, she was concerned.

he learner, eight-year-old Bianca Devereux was a nervous and sensitive child with a low self-esteem, performing in the bottom 10% of her class. But since her mom Lana introduced the iPad as a reinforcement tool at home, Bianca’s progress was dramatic. She also started using an iPad at school via a mobile lab, and immediately loved it’s interactive learning features. With some Maths apps, and the support of her teacher, after four months Bianca rose to the top 10% of her class.

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Transoranje School for the Deaf

Located in the outskirts of Pretoria and founded in 1954, Transoranje School for the Deaf is a school to 200 deaf and hard of hearing children from Pre- Primary to High School. A government subsidised school, it is also a home and safe haven where the children are cared for, loved and recognised. The school’s over arching philosophy is to empower their students by developing them into well adjusted, responsible, independent, productive and self-sustaining individuals who are well prepared for the working world. Due to the lack of language exposure during their critical developmental stages, the students’ level of competency at Transoranje is on average 2-3 years behind their peers. Many of them start school with little or no ability to communicate effectively.

As a result, their situations pose a range of unique learning challenges. The school’s primary objective is to use a variety of visual means to teach their deaf students South African Sign Language (SASL) as well as reading and writing in English and Afrikaans. With the limited access to learning resources that the school previously had, this presented them with a difficult task. The iDeaf Project on the iPad originated out of a necessity to better equip the deaf students of South Africa with the critical reading and language skills needed to accelerate their learning to more acceptable levels. With their learning centred around visual methods, the developers set out to combine a variety of visual and language elements into a series of locally relevant and interactive story books in both English and Afrikaans that would teach deaf students to read using South African Sign Language. The books were not only engaging but also enabled a level of in-depth understanding that had never been achieved at the school previously and transformed how the school teaches students to read and communicate effectively.

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How the iPad made literacy possible against all odds

From the age of six, life and learning came with their challenges for Tebogo Phetlha ,With the passing of his mom and a move from Gauteng to Kwazulu-Natal with his aunt, Vivian Phetlha, Tebogo made the difficult adjustment to a new home. In January 2013, Tebogo started grade 3 in Shanaaz Omarjee’s class at Clarence Primary, an English medium school in Durban. With no understanding of English or Zulu, only of Tswana from where he grew up, Tebogo was unable to process instructions and new concepts that were being taught at school. Furthermore, he struggled to make friends and settle into his new environment. His confidence levels and emotional wellbeing were affected to such a point that Mrs Omarjee saw the need for a drastic change.

It was during that time that iSchoolAfrica, an education initiative that facilitates providing Apple technology to schools, began the iPad implementation at Clarence Primary School. With the assistance of their sponsor, the Victor Daitz Foundation, and constant support from the iSchoolAfrica facilitator Mike Notley, Clarence Primary School is seeing excellent results in Maths and English specifically and now has 60 iPads at the school.

Mrs Omarjee began to experiment with iPads in her class, and Tebogo was instantly enthusiastic about using them. She sat with Tebogo at break times and after school to find ways of improving his English with the iPad. Using various apps and different ways of practising reading and writing, Tebogo steadily began to show progress. At the end of 2013, the school and his family decided to keep Tebogo back in grade three  to continue under Mrs Omarjee’s care and guidance. With the iPad, the support of his aunt and the constant guidance and commitment from Mrs Omarjee, Tebogo’s life completely changed. From being unable to understand English at all in 2013, he can now read and write and is a confident young boy creating and presenting his own Keynote presentations. At 9 years old, he has already encountered numerous obstacles, but through persevering, and working closely with his teacher and iPad, he has successfully overcome every single one.

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Sacred Heart College

Founded in 1889 in the dust of the gold rush, Sacred Heart College is a school rich in history. In 1979, Sacred Heart College opened its doors to children of all races for the first time and through a generous donations structure, children from disadvantaged areas were given a high quality education. As a result, the school has grown to be an institution that reflects the diversity of South African society. Sacred Heart College covers a values based education that aims to produce children who are able to think critically and succeed in a changing world. Sacred Heart’s core philosophy is to foster a child’s eagerness to explore by creating an environment where children are dynamic participants in their own learning. Students are encouraged to think critically through an innovative and explorative curriculum and lessons are designed to give students the opportunity to problem solve through creative applications.

The school also aims to provide learning programmes that are individualised and cater for the specific needs of their students. This type of purposeful learning philosophy requires a forward thinking and innovative approach and resulted in the strong investment in technology at the school. Today, through a well planned implementation strategy and passionate commitment, every teacher and student at Sacred Heart College has access to an iPad.

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iSchoolAfrica at Gugulesizwe Primary School

iSchoolAfrica is an education initiative developed by Apple’s local Value Added Distributor, Core Group, which reaches under resourced rural and township schools across South Africa. The overall objective of the initiative is to empower teachers and students by providing them with access to the world’s most advanced educational technology and classroom practices. The iSchoolAfrica iPad Learning Programme combines mobile iPad labs with training, support, integration, monitoring and evaluation to address key challenges faced by our teachers and students to create a sustainable impact on education. To enable the rollout of iPads into schools, iSchoolAfrica works in partnership with programme sponsors from both government and the private sector.

The Peermont School Support Programme (PSSP) is a programme that supports the creation of centers of educational excellence in public schools. PSSP is an iSchoolAfrica sponsor and commissioned the implementation of the iSchoolAfrica iPad Learning Programme into Gugulesizwe Primary School. iSchoolAfrica was selected by PSSP as it provided a solution that not only covered ‘best of breed’ technology, but also a unique, supportive infrastructure that ensured systematic and sustainable impact on the students and teachers. The iSchoolAfrica iPad Learning Programme was introduced to Gugulesizwe Primary School in 2011 and has had a remarkable impact. Improvements have been observed in academic results, attendance and engagement. Additionally, iPad has allowed the school access to a host of world-leading educational content and resources that were not available to them previously.

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