Called Siyavula, the online education platform is usually a pay subscription service but has been made available to all South Africans free of charge during this period as part of the foundation’s commitment in partnership with Siyavula to enable access to quality education. In addition to accessing the material, learners and parents on the MTN and Vodacom networks will also not incur any data costs when downloading the material.
Available on the platform is the following textbooks:
- Grade 7-12 Mathematics
- Grade 10 Maths Literacy
- Grade 4-12 Physical Sciences
- Grade 10 Life Sciences
- Grade 10-12 Information Technology (IT)
- Grade 10-12 Computer Application Technology (CAT)
Upon signing up, learners and educators can also access Grade 11-12 Mathematics and Physical Science practice sheets and examination preparation papers.
For those in the lower grades, specifically grades 4-7, there are Thunderbolt Kids, which is an interactive online site featuring a cast of fun fictional characters that make learning fun. These focus on various topics in Natural Sciences and Technology. For the learners in Grades 7-9, there’s MST Workbooks, which takes them through their paces in Mathematics, Natural Science and Technology.
In addition to this initiative, the Sasol Foundation, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Africa Teen Geeks, will launch free digital science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) “Lockdown School”, which provides online classes on STEM subjects.
Learners are able to choose topics of interest to access one-hour lessons, while educators share additional links to online resources that learners can easily follow to help them beyond the interactive sessions. Using the artificial intelligence platform MsZora, an Africa Teen Geeks product, virtual classes will run every day from 8am to 5pm.
The live virtual classroom will be at no cost to learners and will cover Grades R – 12 (grade 12 for the first week). Sessions will be recorded and uploaded on any of the three websites allowing learners to be able to re-watch them.
“These easy-to-use platforms are uncluttered, and not interrupted by ads or other pop-up content that might be inappropriate,” said Anacletta Koloko, Programme Practitioner at the Sasol Foundation. “This ensures simple, free-flowing navigation and quick feedback to aid learners to stay captivated and focused.”
She added: “Parents will be able to easily keep track of their children’s progress and develop their own tailored programmes for each child’s developmental stage, so they are ready to fit right back into the school year when classes resume.”
Koloko says digital learning and free online textbooks form an integral part of our existing, multi-dimensional interventions to contribute to the upliftment of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in South Africa. During this time of crisis, these resources are becoming even more relevant in ensuring that our children’s development continues to be supported.