Ilse Dippenaar, CEO.
When I was in high school, I found it difficult to learn the work from a page and as a result, I really under performed. Later when I did go to study, a friend showed me how to use colours and pictures to decode the words on the page into a ‘language’ that I could easily understand and remember and then, during an exam, to recode the facts into words for the marker. Suddenly my grades soared.
Later I became a teacher and I taught at one of the top high schools in KZN. I used this method of presenting new content to learners in a different format but still I found that many parents and learners believed that Afrikaans was a difficult subject. However, that notion doesn’t hold true when we compare Afrikaans to a language like French or German.
I had a group of learners that worked especially hard, but just couldn’t excel. Their effort just wouldn’t translate into better grades. This brought me to a place where I was asking myself: What am I doing wrong? How am I perhaps hindering their learning of Afrikaans?
I started researching the different methods of acquiring a language and found that the method we use to teach Afrikaans is outdated. I decided to implement the new methods I learned about in my research and found that using these methods led to an increase in learners’ marks, in some cases, quite dramatically.
During this time when I was teaching at one of the top schools in KZN, I had Wi-Fi, a SMART board and immediate access to support in my classroom. I was in my element! My in-laws live in the North-West province and we used to spend most holidays on the farm. The workers on the farm have a tight-knit community and we know the children, as they know our children.
When my eldest daughter was about 9 years old, I saw that there was a new girl on the farm of approximately the same age. She looked unkempt: her clothes were too small and certainly not warm enough for the winter we were experiencing. The ladies who work in the kitchen then told me that the girl, Betty, had recently lost both her mother and grandmother and that she is staying with some families on the farm.
However, later I found out that the families she was staying with demanded that she work for her bed and food and she was in charge of looking after the small children while the parents worked. This meant that Betty couldn’t go to school and anyway, I was told, who would buy her school uniform for her.My mother-in-law and I worked together. I gave her some jackets and warm clothes while my mother-in-law bought her a school uniform. The next time we came back to the farm, I heard that the community felt that it was wrong that Betty had received that, and that she needed to reimburse the families she was staying with by giving up her new clothes.
She lost all of it. When we drove home, I said to my husband: If only there was a way for Betty to still receive an education, because I couldn’t see any other way for her to escape this poverty. We wished there was a way of bringing the quality education my own children were receiving to Betty and others like her.
Of course, there wasn’t. I wasn’t willing to go back to the status quo with regards to teaching Afrikaans in an ineffectual way, or of accepting that there was nothing to be done for the Betty’s of the world.UP.Ed was born when we became focused on harnessing the powerful options technology affords us.
We wanted to provide teachers and learners with exceptional quality content, presented in an interactive way.
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