What better gift is there than the gift of giving? Smart giving. Especially when the gift brings amazing technology to South Africans who do important community work, building the capacity of the people who care for children in their early years.
Recently, MIA donated fifteen smart phones to Ikamva Labantu, a Cape Town-based non-governmental organisation that provides communities with access to resources and opportunities.
Like with most organisations, technology is an increasingly important element for both sustainability and programme delivery. Ikamva Labantu tells us that these smartphones will do just that in relation to three of their core programmes, the home-based seniors programme, the management of community feeding sites and especially to early childhood development (ECD) teacher training.
We like that.
Early Childhood Development
About investing in ECD, the World Bank says –
Smart investments in the physical, cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development of young children — from before birth until they transition to primary school — are critical to put them on the path to greater prosperity, and to help countries be more productive and compete more successfully in a rapidly changing global economy.
We could not agree more.
Ikamva’s teacher training programme is central to the long-term sustainability of the ECD centres they support. However, like so many important programmes around the country and the world, this training had to stop during 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These phones are helping to restart this programme. And more.
Ikamva operates mostly in poor communities which meant that taking learning online was not possible because of the limited access to broadband, data and the technology: the ongoing challenge of South Africa’s so called digital divide. This is complicated by the fact that ECD practitioners who are trained via community organisations rather than through the public TVET college system, are often older and have little education. This means that their expectations of learning – and teaching – are rooted in the old teacher-tell, chalk and talk methods of their own experience. Often these (mostly) women are also technologically shy.
As far back as 2012, Unesco began exploring the use of phones in supporting teacher development, but until the pandemic, the use of phones for teaching and learning had not really become universal.
However, the use of technology, generally, remains a challenge in under resourced areas. Consequently, smart technology, especially phones, and how they can be used for teaching is a steep learning curve – for both trainee ECD practitioners and their lecturers.
MIA is delighted to be able to help Ikamva Labantu on this journey through this donation of smartphones.
Today’s children are digital natives
Regardless of where children are growing up, they are digital natives – whether we like it or not. Encouraging and supporting trainee ECD practitioners with (and to use smartphones) as part of their training is part of the process of bridging this divide. MIA is an authorised distributor of Xiaomi smartphones in South Africa which is the fourth biggest smartphone brand in the world. Even their entry level phones are optimised for gaming which also makes them the best choice for training and education and especially game-based teaching and learning.
Socially distanced and getting together through technology
Prior to the pandemic, as with most education and training, Ikamva’s training was face-to-face, on site and in large groups. Now, and with MIA’s smart phone donation, trainees and their lecturers don’t have to gather in big groups. Trainers and trainees, alike, can stay socially distanced because this technology brings them together.
It’s a little big deal
This training programme empowers committed trainee practitioners to upskill, enabling them to run professionally designed programmes – in safe spaces – for the children in their care. Thesenprogrammes are the springboard from which children jump into the foundation phase and mainstream schooling.
It’s more than that, children who go to créches and pre-primary schools that are staffed with trained teachers cope better when they get to grade 1. These children are comfortable in group situations, they have better social skills and are emotionally and intellectually better equipped to handle the challenges of formal school.
We are thrilled that our donation of phones has helped to restart Ikamva’s ECD practitioner training. Smart use of these smartphones means that Ikamva can now train more safely and without interruption. Our donation of 15 smart phones will support the training of 90 teachers and principals and through this, have an impact on about 3,000 children in early childhood centres in the Western Cape.