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Technology Project

History

Sifunda Kunye built our first computer lab at St. Matthew’s High School in 2008. Government funded schools, especially in rural areas in the Eastern Cape, struggle with poverty, teacher shortages, large class sizes, under-resourced classrooms, and other challenges. Sifunda Kunye’s goal was to supplement the normal classroom experience with technology to alleviate some of the challenges the schools faced daily. Since that first lab was completed eight years ago, Sifunda Kunye has built a strong and unique model of partnership and support that has demonstrated its effectiveness across our now six partner schools.

Our Model of Support

Why It Works

Our model provides hands-on, personalized support, ensuring that we are able to continually assess the changing needs of the staff & learners, making our programs much more effective at improving the overall educational experience.

Partner Schools

We partner with rural, Government-funded primary and secondary schools, providing each with a computer lab outfitted with at least 40 desktops, laptops, or tablets (personalized), internet access, CAMI Maths & English software, & on-site support.

Hub Schools

We match partner schools with “hubs” – successful private schools that provide IT support, network monitoring, software updates, & other technological expertise. The hubs facilitate cross-school activities with their partner schools’ learners as well.

Support

Each school is also supported by full time Sifunda Kunye employees, which assist the school’s faculty with running and monitoring of the computer labs, initiating student-led technology programs, and supporting teachers and school staff members in learning the technology and utilizing the software.

King Williamstown Cluster

Grahamstown Cluster

Our Initiatives

Computer Labs

Sifunda Kunye’s support of each of our partner schools begins with the building of the computer lab. The school designates a classroom or multi-purpose space that we then remodel to fit the requirements of the space and school. Although each lab is customized to the preferences and needs of the school, all of the labs are equipped with the following:

  1. Between 40 and 50 computers and workstations (desktops or laptops)
  2. Microsoft Office Suite programs on each computer
  3. CAMI Educational Software licenses
  4. Desks, chairs, and other necessary furnishings
  5. White Boards
  6. One ceiling-mounted projectors and screens
  7. Printers and printing supplies
  8. Air Conditioning
  9. Necessary electrical outlets
  10. A server
  11. A safe in which to keep the mobile technology
  12. Internet access
  13. Adequate Security – cameras, window cages, reinforced door locks, etc.
  14. On-going IT support
  15. Support staff

Computer Literacy

Many of our learners have never had the opportunity to use a computer before coming to the Sifunda Kunye labs. At the beginning of each academic year, prior to commencing regular CAMI courses, each learner is required to pass a basic eight-session computer literacy course. The course is administered by school faculty, volunteers, and the Sifunda Kunye support staff and covers everything from how to use a mouse to basic Microsoft Office skills development.

Internet Access

Most of our partner schools are located within or just outside of remote villages in the Eastern Cape. This means that reliable electricity and internet access are sometimes difficult to come by. We are constantly working on new solutions to provide fast reliable internet to our schools. We work with several South African telecom companies as well as some satellite internet providers for service at our schools. No matter the challenges, Sifunda Kunye recognizes that internet access is an essential part of a 21st Century education.

CAMI Maths and English Software

The Software

Every computer in the labs is equipped with CAMI Educational Software. The software, developed to be compatible with the state-required curriculum, provides mathematics and English revision and learning through the use of games and exercises. Learners’ results are tracked by the software in real time, allowing teachers to regularly track learners’ progress. Our staff receive regular CAMI training and offer training sessions to the faculty at their schools.

Scheduling the Classes

A unique aspect of Sifunda Kunye is that the CAMI software is more than just a support tool; it is a part of the curriculum, reinforcing lessons learned in the traditional classroom. Our support staff works with the faculty in the maths and language departments to integrate CAMI classes into their weekly schedule. Sifunda Kunye guarantees 95% lab uptime while our partner schools commit to a minimum of 65% lab usage. This means that if there are six 55-minute lesson blocks scheduled everyday, CAMI classes will be in session during at least four of those blocks. CAMI is also available in the labs for extra practice during break, lunch, and after school. Many of our partner schools actually host regular after-school CAMI clubs, encouraging the learners to practice their skills even more.

Hub School Support and IT Consulting

An essential piece of our model is the IT services provided by our hub school, St. Andrew’s College. The SAC IT team has been a valued partner since we opened our first lab at St. Matthew’s High School in 2008. Their primary responsibilities are to assist us in establishing new labs as well as maintaining our current labs. Because keeping the labs functioning well and reliably is part of our major commitment to our partner schools, we rely on our IT team to keep the labs and computers in order. They assist us in the design of the network configuration, the choice of computers and equipment, computer security, etc. They also assist in the procurement of computers and software. They assist in the physical security precautions that safeguard the labs and they provide ongoing IT support, principally through internet access and surveillance but also to provide physical support for any major installations, or major problems. As our project expands beyond our first cluster of schools, we are actively searching for a second hub school.

School Newsletters and Websites

The Sifunda Kunye consultant is charged with the responsibility of creating and maintaining a website for their school. This gives the school some online exposure and gives learners the opportunity to contribute content to the site. The websites are a point of pride for many of our partners and are often utilized to showcase the schools’ achievements and results.

The school newsletters are one of the original initiatives started in 2008 as a way to engage learners in extracurricular computer literacy activities. A small and dedicated group of learners, with the assistance of the Sifunda Kunye consultant and school faculty, at each partner school produces three newsletters each year at the end of the first three terms. A fourth joint newsletter is compiled from the top articles and stories, chosen from the pool of all of the schools’ published newsletters, and is available at the end of the final school term in December. The school newsletters are archived and available to view on the individual school websites.

Tertiary Education Support

The computer labs, internet, and Sifudna Kunye’s team of support staff offer learners access to and assistance with university and scholarship information and applications. Learners can come to the labs for assistance during their breaks or after school and one of our facilitators are always happy to help them research schools, fill out online forms, and much more. If learners do not already have an email address oru facilitators help them create one. Sifunda Kunye produces a calendar each year that helps learners keep track of important university and scholarship deadlines. Finally, Sifunda Kunye distributes a “Guide to Selecting Courses” each year to grade 8, 9, and 10 learners that gives important tips on how to complete their secondary education and qualify for the tertiary degree they desire.