The past few weeks have been a time of experiment and refinement at Axium. We continue to be encouraged that even though many of us are cut off from our learners, colleagues and the work that we believe in, we are finding ways to stay inspired and to keep one another motivated. We wanted to share some of the adventures that the different parts of the Axium team are embarking on, and some of the encouraging and inspiring stories coming out of the weeks.
The Nobalisa team has been distributing literacy and numeracy activities for learning through play via Whatsapp and text messages. The learners are eager to take part in the activities. Siphesihle started working with the learners in his home, and found many neighbourhood children wanted to join in too! Although this isn’t possible for safety reasons, he was able to share the activity instructions with their parents and guardians virtually. Zikhona has been mentoring a grade 3 child that is struggling to read. She had her first 30 minute session over Whatsapp where she assessed the child to see what TaRL level she is on. Zikhona said she really enjoyed the session and being able to help the child, “if it wasn’t for lock down I would go and walk to her house and help her”. For now, though she will continue to work with her over Whatsapp. These are just a couple of the many stories like this. Hopefully soon our activities will spread far and wide in the community.
The Masakhane team is sharing Maths and English exercises to their learners via SMS and phoning learners once per week to give feedback one-on-one. Their learners are also excited to get working. One learner walked to Sinovuyo’s house to tell her that his weekly text message had not arrived! Our kids are hungry for learning. We are going to keep giving them whatever we can.
Through our foundation and primary school programs especially, we have been celebrating the power of getting parents engaged in their children's education. We really feel this is something we will take forward into the future.
For maths tablet programme, Yenzokuhle, we really thought it would be challenging to connect with this group of learners due to the large number of children involved and the fact that we didn't have phone numbers for them. However, Mashiya and her committed team of Maths facilitators have begun to play detective, finding cell phone numbers and connecting with learners where we can. We are able to get data to these learners and the number of students now practicing on MathsBuddy is slowly growing.
The Senior Schools team is sending Maths, Science and English work and encouragement to learners through Whatsapp groups and phone calls. There has been strong uptake with learners working together, sending in their own work and responding positively to feedback. This is what one of the learners said to Theo:
“It shows that there are people who love and care about our success and most importantly who care about seeing us successful…. From the bottom of our hearts we truly appreciate your efforts...”
At our Public School Partnership, Babalwa, Azisiwe, Tamara and Andiswa worked night and day to get resource packs to Dumalisile matrics before lockdown. In the weeks since then, the PSP team has been able to create Whatsapp groups for each grade 12 subject, distribute data to teachers and almost 70% of matric learners, hold distance learning training for teachers and assist in running classes over Whatsapp via voice notes, PDFs, video clips and images. JJ shared the mantra his team is working towards, "Something is better than nothing, the simpler the better, work with the resources we have, keep innovating, and aggressive monitoring".
In a matter of four weeks we have shifted from a face-to-face organisation to a virtual one. In spite of all the difficulties, we are endeavouring to stay resilient, positive and child-centred during a very challenging time. Our goal across the organisation is to keep students connected with caring educators and engaged in learning. A big shout out to every member of the team who plays a big part or a small part in keeping our learners feeling this way. In the coming weeks we will continue to explore creative ways of reaching more learners.