Archive for March, 2012
The VSA proudly announces the beginning of academic reasearch on the impact of the introduction and use of awareNet in disadvantaged and other schools in the Eastern Cape. Two Anthropology Students from Rhodes University have started their Honours theses about
- “The School as a Multi-Layered Community: Negotiating Technology in Township Schools.” (Louise Featherstone) and
- “awareNet: Learners, Teachers, Community. – Learn your way” (Kiarin Lee Gillies).
They will be investigating topics such as
- What contextual factors have an impact on the acceptance and usability of technology for learners and teachers at under-resources schools?
- What effect has the introduction of awareNet into township schools in Grahamstown had on increasing learning output in the areas of language and technology literacy?
- What kind of institutional cultures effect learner attitudes and practices and how can awareNet facilitators work towards overcoming the associated barriers to learning?
- How sustainable are the endeavours of projects involving ICT, considering the specific institutional dynamics in schools?
- How does awareNet reinforce ‘norms’ of a certain society and how is this affected or transformed through ICT’s?
- Is awareNet moving away from enculturation and cultural transformation to a space where youth become agents of their own education, or by virtue of the program itself it is perpetuating those very ‘norms’?
We are very happy about their interest and investigations. Both want to get actively involved in the awareNet programme and work very closely together with the other awareNet facilitators and Ronald Wertlen, Professional Associate at the Anthropology Department at Rhodes. We hope that this cooperation will prove to be as fruitful as it promises to be.
The “Good Vibrations” Project by Sarah Hanton, Boudina McConnachie and Anna Wertlen has been selected for the finals of the Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum competition! The project involves peer-teaching, outreach and obviously the usage of awareNet and is described in detail in our previous blog.
This year, finalists are not only invited to attend the Forum which includes a workshop and the award ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in Durban (1.-4.4.12), they are also being sponsored by Microsoft to attend the South African Basic Education Conference as part of their prize. Congratulations and the VSA is holding thumbs that the presentation will be successful!
Two teachers from VG High School in Grahamstown, Dr Hanton and Mrs McConnachie, collaborated very closely with the VSA over the last year and have now driven a combined application to the Microsoft Innovative Teacher Awards.
VGHS joined awareNet last year and its learners have since then participated in a number of different and very exciting online and collaborative projects on awareNet including creative writing and HipHop song competitions.
The recent project included music and science sub-projects and has lead to learner presentations at SciFest and peer teaching between VGHS and CM Vellem Higher Primary School. awareNet usage was integrated into co-curricular and mainstream teaching, facilitated by school teachers as well as the VSA.
We are very happy about this fantastic collaboration and quite confident that our project will be outstanding enough to bring the proposal into the second round of the Teacher Awards during which teachers have to present their projects personally in Durban. Watch this space for further developments.
We not only have computers there, on which we show awareNet content and explain the functionality of awareNet. You can also chat to all sorts of different awareNet users: learners from the various schools in Grahamstown, teachers and community coordinators and obviously, the VSA staff and the developers of awareNet (eKhaya ICT).
Interested visitors can create user accounts and start using awareNet straight away: We have created new projects that can be joined, e.g. “The SciFest Experience” Project. We also collect photographs with the theme “The African Century: ICTs Inspiring Innovation”. The best ones will be submitted to the eLearning Africa Conference Photo Competition.
SciFest takes place in Grahamstown, more precisely in the Monument, from 14.-20.3.12. You will find us on the 1st floor. Free Entry.
Our latest project on awareNet has touched a lot of hearts. And moved a lot of hips!
We take opportunities as they come, and this was an extraordinary one: The VSA was approached by Impuls, the Swiss Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development, which supports The Glue, a Swiss a cappella band on world tour. The Glue is not only a young dynamic, ‘stubborn&openminded’ group of very professional voice artists, they are also interested in cultural exchange and mutual inspiration. So, they agreed to give a benefit concert for the VSA.
The VSA took the challenge to put this concert into a larger context and embedded it into an awareNet project. We involved two schools in Grahamstown, CM Vellem HPS and VGHS, and motivated them to cooperate via awareNet. For 6 weeks, learners researched, interviewed experts, wrote essays, practiced to sing, discussed all topics in the awareNet forums and presented what they had learned personally to their peers. The topics ranged from a cappella over the Science of Musical Instruments to Kaolin Mining and Plant fossils. (All of the projects will also be presented at SciFest this week.) Everyone was rewarded with a free ticket to The Glue’s concert on Sunday 11/3/12 – and was absolutely blown away by the “quality, savvy, handsomeness and humour of the artists”.
The following day, the artists visited CM Vellem HPS to get a better insight of the VSA’s work and really engage with the learners. They chatted to the learners and were shown what they had learned on awareNet followed by a presentation of their singing for which they had practiced together with Hleze Kunju. In the end, everyone sang together and the atmosphere was absolutely joyful – hard to say who was happier in the end.
The Glue and Verena Gauthier from Impuls thanked us many times for this intense experience. A lot of people had been involved; we also have to mention Denese Palm from Haricot’s Restaurant that started its theater lunch series with The Glue and provided a very special meal for them before the concert – a brilliant idea. We hope for more great collaboration in the future.
We are very happy that this event turned out to be such a good experience for everyone and also sincerely thank Verena and The Glue! We hope to meet you again one day – perhaps at the Art Festival 2013…?!
PS: Next shows will take place in Stellenbosch 13/3 and Berlin 5/5.
The Equality Act – The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000 (Pepuda) – is still one of the most important and pressing acts in a country that is amongst the most unequal countries in the world if not the most unequal country. You think of black and white, but what you never thought of is being poor and disabled. And now remember that many people never received proper basic education to understand their rights and duties as a citizen and possibilities in life.
South Africa has one of the most advanced and best constitutions in the world. Before the law, everyone is equal. The reality is different. Hardly anyone knows what their rights are and how they can help themselves when they are in such a situation. It’s not enough to give people rights – they need education. They need more attention from their government – and on a regular basis. (The government even has to employ 2% disabled people according to the constitution. Are they doing it?)
Society has no mercy for the poor and disabled. They are so weak, their own family and friends steal from them. Their families are overwhelmed. They stand before a problem that they can’t solve. They have no one to turn to, no mediator who explains what they can do. South Africa has too few social workers, and usually social workers are underpaid and overworked. Everyone complains that there is no money. But South Africa is rich. Rich and corrupt. And very unequal.
This Pepuda Workshop is a first step by the Dept. of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Foundation for Human Rights to educate a few people who are able to educate more people. One workshop per province. 100% attendance of invited people in every province. It’s a drop in the ocean, but it’s a start!
Excellent news! Another administrative “piece of the puzzle” falls into place: As of the 27th of February, VSA South Africa is recognised as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) in terms of Section 18(A).
This means that any donations received are exempt from donations tax for the organisation, and are also tax exempt for donors.
Our PBO number is: 930 038 006.