Numeric and Khan Academy

Numeric and Khan Academy

Just over a year ago I was approached by Andrew Einhorn, a UCT grad student, who was interested in implementing an online maths program at Makhaza. All he needed was access to the lab, access to a class and a tutor. A year down the line not only he has completely revamped two of our branches labs in Makhaza and Nyanga, established a formal Khan Academy program in these branches (as well as other locations in Cape Town and rural Eastern Cape), but has produced results at very low costs, and is piloting in schools for 2013. 

His passion for creating high impact and stimulating learning environments in township and rural locations often only privy to the wealthy few has seen him start Numeric, an NGO interested in finding ways to bring Khan Academy to South Africa and make it a useful resource to both teachers and learners. He presented an inspiring TEDxUCT talk last year outlining the background, as well as the impact and results Numeric has had. He also posted the following blog on the Khan Academy website:

 

A little over 15 months ago, we started an experiment.  We wanted to know if Khan Academy was viable in township (slum) areas in South Africa and if so, what type of impact it might have on numeracy.   Numeracy in South Africa is astonishingly weak, with just 2% of Grade 9s scoring over 50% on the annual national assessments in 2012. 

And so we set out to see if Khan Academy might be used as a catalyst for change.  But before I expound on the results of this experiment, I ought perhaps give a little more background on the environments we’re working in.

Townships in South Africa are not unlike the favelas of Brazil or the slums bordering Delhi and Calcutta in India.  They are urban areas that were, until the end of Apartheid in 1994, reserved for non-whites, but have now become residential hubs for the urbanizing masses.  They are typically built on the periphery of cities and tend to be characterized by high population density, poverty and unemployment.  Picture a ramshackle of makeshift houses constructed out of corrugated iron, wood scraps and cardboard, jigsawed together into a gigantic maze 5 miles wide and 10 miles across.  At the risk of generalising grossly, that’s more or less the picture I want you to have in mind as you read this article.

Now, townships in South Africa get a bad rap.  They are viewed as ‘dangerous’ places and it is considered unwise to visit them unless you know someone there, or visit them as part of a ‘township tour’.  Yet while crime rates in these areas are often high, the reputation does not do justice to the vibrant and persevering people who inhabit them.  In particular, townships are YOUNG!  On any given day, around two o’clock in the afternoon, the streets flood with uniformed, backpack-toting children on their way home from school.  And despite having barely two pennies to rub together, they are meticulously dressed – shiny black shoes, starched white collars – and have aspirations to match.   Most of the children in South Africa live in some form of township, which means that children growing up in these environments constitute the better part of the future of our country.

And yet it is supremely difficult to convince our best teachers to go and work in these areas.  They are offered good jobs in well-resourced schools most often located in the wealthy suburbs of the cities.  Principals at these schools compete fiercely for their skills.  And this is as it should be.  But it also entrenches the educational bias whereby a child’s access to quality education is directly proportional to the wealth of their family (see chart below).  

 

* University exemption rate refers to the percentage of learners who attain the academic marks in their final year of school that are necessary to gain access to South African universities.

So Numeric’s experiment was to see whether we could use Khan Academy, in conjunction with a slightly less skilled (and often unqualified) math coach, to create the high impact and stimulating learning environments enjoyed by kids living in wealthier suburbs.

The opportunity provided by Khan Academy premised on the following:  Videos do not argue about where they are played; they are unaffected by crime and environment. Appropriately licensed, they do not cost anything.  They do not grow weary, skip class, or grow jaded.  Instead, they convey their message enthusiastically, faithfully, clearly – time and time again.  A child may watch just as many videos as he/she has appetite for, and need never feel limited by the dragging on of a boring class or an inept teacher.  For many children in South Africa, a Khan Academy video will be their first exposure to what we might term ‘world class instruction’.  When complemented by the exercises on the Knowledge Map, Khan Academy becomes a powerful tool for turning the tide on numeracy in South Africa.

So what were the results of the experiment?  Well, it’s probably too early to draw any major conclusions, but we do have a few figures we’d like to share.  We currently run 7 Khan Academy classes across 3 different hubs in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces of South Africa.  The first pilot group of 20 Grade 9s has just completed its first twelve months of Khan Academy and their numbers are as follows:

* Total Khan Academy hours delivered:  2220

* Total Problems Solved:  27,988

* Total Problems per learner:  1399

* Total Khan Modules Complete:  1232

* Average Modules per learner:  62

Bearing in mind this is an afterschool programme, these are 27,988 math problems that would not otherwise have been attempted.  The 62 modules completed by the average learner constitute 62 gaps that those learners have filled.   But it’s more about just the numbers; it’s about creating excitement and enthusiasm around learning.  This is hard to convey in words, but perhaps a picture will suffice.

 

As we always say to our coaches, the tragedy in South Africa is not so much that kids don’t want to learn.  It’s that some kids DO want to learn, but can’t.  Khan Academy provides us one way to give these kids a world-class education without having to magically replenish our nation’s supply of teachers.  And who knows, perhaps one day these kids will become the inspirational and talented teachers we have waited for for so long!

—-

Andrew Einhorn is the founder and current CEO of Numeric.org. His TEDx talk on Numeric.org and Khan Academy is available here.

Numeric and Khan Academy

Numeric and Khan Academy

Just over a year ago I was approached by Andrew Einhorn, a UCT grad student, who was interested in implementing an online maths program at Makhaza. All he needed was access to the lab, access to a class and a tutor. A year down the line not only he has completely revamped two of our branches labs in Makhaza and Nyanga, established a formal Khan Academy program in these branches (as well as other locations in Cape Town and rural Eastern Cape), but has produced results at very low costs, and is piloting in schools for 2013. 

His passion for creating high impact and stimulating learning environments in township and rural locations often only privy to the wealthy few has seen him start Numeric, an NGO interested in finding ways to bring Khan Academy to South Africa and make it a useful resource to both teachers and learners. He presented an inspiring TEDxUCT talk last year outlining the background, as well as the impact and results Numeric has had. He also posted the following blog on the Khan Academy website:

 

A little over 15 months ago, we started an experiment.  We wanted to know if Khan Academy was viable in township (slum) areas in South Africa and if so, what type of impact it might have on numeracy.   Numeracy in South Africa is astonishingly weak, with just 2% of Grade 9s scoring over 50% on the annual national assessments in 2012. 

And so we set out to see if Khan Academy might be used as a catalyst for change.  But before I expound on the results of this experiment, I ought perhaps give a little more background on the environments we’re working in.

Townships in South Africa are not unlike the favelas of Brazil or the slums bordering Delhi and Calcutta in India.  They are urban areas that were, until the end of Apartheid in 1994, reserved for non-whites, but have now become residential hubs for the urbanizing masses.  They are typically built on the periphery of cities and tend to be characterized by high population density, poverty and unemployment.  Picture a ramshackle of makeshift houses constructed out of corrugated iron, wood scraps and cardboard, jigsawed together into a gigantic maze 5 miles wide and 10 miles across.  At the risk of generalising grossly, that’s more or less the picture I want you to have in mind as you read this article.

Now, townships in South Africa get a bad rap.  They are viewed as ‘dangerous’ places and it is considered unwise to visit them unless you know someone there, or visit them as part of a ‘township tour’.  Yet while crime rates in these areas are often high, the reputation does not do justice to the vibrant and persevering people who inhabit them.  In particular, townships are YOUNG!  On any given day, around two o’clock in the afternoon, the streets flood with uniformed, backpack-toting children on their way home from school.  And despite having barely two pennies to rub together, they are meticulously dressed – shiny black shoes, starched white collars – and have aspirations to match.   Most of the children in South Africa live in some form of township, which means that children growing up in these environments constitute the better part of the future of our country.

And yet it is supremely difficult to convince our best teachers to go and work in these areas.  They are offered good jobs in well-resourced schools most often located in the wealthy suburbs of the cities.  Principals at these schools compete fiercely for their skills.  And this is as it should be.  But it also entrenches the educational bias whereby a child’s access to quality education is directly proportional to the wealth of their family (see chart below).  

 

* University exemption rate refers to the percentage of learners who attain the academic marks in their final year of school that are necessary to gain access to South African universities.

So Numeric’s experiment was to see whether we could use Khan Academy, in conjunction with a slightly less skilled (and often unqualified) math coach, to create the high impact and stimulating learning environments enjoyed by kids living in wealthier suburbs.

The opportunity provided by Khan Academy premised on the following:  Videos do not argue about where they are played; they are unaffected by crime and environment. Appropriately licensed, they do not cost anything.  They do not grow weary, skip class, or grow jaded.  Instead, they convey their message enthusiastically, faithfully, clearly – time and time again.  A child may watch just as many videos as he/she has appetite for, and need never feel limited by the dragging on of a boring class or an inept teacher.  For many children in South Africa, a Khan Academy video will be their first exposure to what we might term ‘world class instruction’.  When complemented by the exercises on the Knowledge Map, Khan Academy becomes a powerful tool for turning the tide on numeracy in South Africa.

So what were the results of the experiment?  Well, it’s probably too early to draw any major conclusions, but we do have a few figures we’d like to share.  We currently run 7 Khan Academy classes across 3 different hubs in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces of South Africa.  The first pilot group of 20 Grade 9s has just completed its first twelve months of Khan Academy and their numbers are as follows:

* Total Khan Academy hours delivered:  2220

* Total Problems Solved:  27,988

* Total Problems per learner:  1399

* Total Khan Modules Complete:  1232

* Average Modules per learner:  62

Bearing in mind this is an afterschool programme, these are 27,988 math problems that would not otherwise have been attempted.  The 62 modules completed by the average learner constitute 62 gaps that those learners have filled.   But it’s more about just the numbers; it’s about creating excitement and enthusiasm around learning.  This is hard to convey in words, but perhaps a picture will suffice.

 

As we always say to our coaches, the tragedy in South Africa is not so much that kids don’t want to learn.  It’s that some kids DO want to learn, but can’t.  Khan Academy provides us one way to give these kids a world-class education without having to magically replenish our nation’s supply of teachers.  And who knows, perhaps one day these kids will become the inspirational and talented teachers we have waited for for so long!

—-

Andrew Einhorn is the founder and current CEO of Numeric.org. His TEDx talk on Numeric.org and Khan Academy is available here.

Final Matric Results: 89% pass rate and 87% eligible for tertiary!

Final Matric Results: 89% pass rate and 87% eligible for tertiary!

Right now, learners all across the country are either celebrating or commiserating after receiving their matric results. And the national numbers seem to suggest that whether matriculants are partying or weeping has a lot to do with their level of economic privilege and the resources of their schools.

But in townships around South Africa, a very special group of matriculants with a whole lot of reasons to celebrate are bucking that trend, and proving that the seemingly impossible is possible with hard work and a little help from one’s friends.

These young people are the ikamvanites, and this week they overcame all the challenges of their circumstances to achieve a national pass rate of 89% and an incredible 100% pass rate in both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal – results far more privileged learners would be proud of!

Those aren’t just 30% passes either: 87% of ikamvanites achieved the Bachelor or Diploma passes they need to take their education to the next level  and access the kinds of opportunities they need to fulfil their dreams of supporting and uplifting their families. Most remarkable of all, these learners aren’t waiting to uplift their communities, and 72% have already become volunteer tutors for the next cohorts of learners; ensuring the exponential replication of the IkamvaYouth model and reach.

Mamphela Ramphele reports that she’s thrilled to witness IkamvaYouth’s incredible growth and enormous impact. “IkamvaYouth saves learners from despair and grinding poverty and most importantly gives them hope…  the organisaton’s  sustainable model, extra-ordinary commitment and exceptional results inspire our nation.”

Talent Chinogureyi, an ikamvanite in Chesterville, KZN, enthused, “I want to go to university and study further so that when I graduate I can be the one to eradicate poverty at home.” She achieved a Bachelor pass and a distinction for Accounting and has been accepted to study a B Com at prestigious private Johannesburg institution St Augustine College.
At the Masiphumelele branch of IkamvaYouth in the Western Cape, one learner overcame even more hardship than most. “The majority of people tend to think that once you have fallen pregnant, it is the end of the world. I have proved to them that there is still hope. Through all the hardships, I made it. I got a Bachelor pass… I say B for my Baby,” said Neliswa Mnaheni, who hopes to study Marketing next year.

While this has been a time of celebration for most ikamvanites, it has been very challenging for some. Thankfully, everyone that did not pass is eligible for supplementary exams, and IkamvaYouth will be supporting these learners to ensure that they are well-prepared to excel. Others were traumatised by the ongoing illegal practice of withholding results due to unpaid school fees or outstanding textbooks. While IkamvaYouth was able to step in and support families with school fee contributions thanks to its donors, there are thousands of learners across the country who do not have access to this kind of support. “The no-fees-no-report practice is unjust, humiliating and illegal and needs to end”, says Joy Olivier, director of IkamvaYouth. “Our learners need these results in order to realise their dreams and schools need alternative avenues to access much-needed funds”. 

IkamvaYouth’s work with the class of 2012 is also far from over. While many of those who passed have already been accepted by the country’s top universities, there is still work to be done to ensure that none of the class of 2012 become unemployed. The next step is ensuring that all these learners access tertiary education, training, internships, learnerships or employment. “IkamvaYouth will continue to support all our 2012 matrics as they access quality post-school opportunities and become tutors; enabling the following years’ learners to do the same,” says Zamo Shongwe, IkamvaYouth’s national coordinator.

IkamvaYouth invites everyone to get involved. There are branches in the Western Cape (Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Masiphumelele); KZN (Chesterville and Umlazi) and Gauteng (Ivory Park, and Ebony Park), North West (a new branch opening in Potchefstroom) and the Eastern Cape (a new branch opening in Grahamstown). IkamvaYouth has maintained a matric pass rate of between 85 and 100% each year since 2005, and true credit for these results must go to the learners, volunteers, the branch teams, partner organisations and donors.

 

Great improvement for Makhaza matriculants

Great improvement for Makhaza matriculants

On Thursday 3 January the grade 12 results were released by the Western Cape Education Department and Makhaza achieved an 82% pass rate, up from 55% in 2011. This was testament to the hard work done by the learners and the tutors at the branch.

10 of the learners achieved Bachelor passes with 1 level 7 (83%) pass in Economics, 2 level 6 (71%) passes in Mathematics, 1 level 6 (71%) pass in Mathematical Literacy, 1 level 6 (76%) pass in Life Sciences and 1 level 6 (74%) pass in Accounting.  8 learners achieved Diploma passes and 5 learners Higher Certificate passes. The 5 learners that did not pass the exams all qualified for supplementary exams and we hope that Makhaza will have a 100% pass come the end of the supplementary exams.

Yibanathi Phaphu, one of the top achievers said that he still couldn’t believe that he passed so well and that he is waiting for the feeling to sink in. He also said that he is looking forward to starting university where he will be doing a B. Comm degree, as he would like to be a Chartered Accountant, at the University of the Western Cape and didn’t expect to get Bs but that he just worked very hard. Sisabelo Pama another top achiever was really excited and couldn’t stop smiling and indicated that she will be pursuing a qualification in Electrical Engineering at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Nomasomi Gugushe scored 83% for Economics and is planning to study construction management at CPUT. She said “I believe without IkamvaYouth I wouldn’t have passed my grade 12 like I did”.

The day was also marked by a bit of sadness, as we would have loved to see all the matriculants pass first time around, but mostly with joy as learners, parents, staff and tutors all celebrated the successes. The results also bear testament of what the learners are capable of when they really want to do something. In 2011 Makhaza had a lot of difficulties, with the office being petrol-bombed during service delivery protests and the teacher strikes that interupted the school year, but the matriculants of 2012 built on these difficulties and showed that they can achieve and do well even in the face of adversity.

90% pass rate for Nyanga Matric class of 2012!

90% pass rate for Nyanga Matric class of 2012!

Thursday 3 January 2013 was a jubilant day for IkamvaYouth Nyanga as the Matric results came in. The Matrics made their way to the branch to share their results with staff, fellow students and tutors; and by mid-day, 100% of the learners’ results were accounted for.

Nyanga achieved a whopping 90% pass rate, broken down as follows: 30% bachelor passes and 60% diploma passes. The learners who failed to achieve a senior certificate qualified for supplementary exams.

Esethu Jack, who achieved a bachelor pass, said the following:  ‘When I woke up this morning, I was very nervous, but I knew I had a bachelor pass.’ Aphiwe Sobutyu achieved a diploma pass and his mother, Mrs. Sobutyu had this to say: ‘he didn’t need to tell me. I already knew he had a diploma pass because it’s in his blood.’

It is gratifying to share the joy of success with the learners and their parents, and these results have motivated the branch to keep working to support the learners. One of the tutors, Busiswa Dayimani said, ‘these results are good and it makes me so happy to see the learners having done so well.’

Here are some inspirational stories from some of our learners:

 

Akhona Mtshwelo

Achievement – Bachelor pass

Accepted at UWC to study BCom Accounting

Akhona lives with her siblings and uncle in Lower Crossroads in Cape Town. Studying at home was often difficult for her since there are difficulties at home, with family members prone to picking arguments and fighting with neighbours, even late into the night. This means that she often had to wait for everyone to fall asleep before she could study. Her older siblings also failed to appreciate the hard work she was putting in at school and often gave disparaging remarks about her marks, despite those marks being higher than the grade and class averages.

During the 3rd term of her Matric year, she suffered from a severe knee problem for 4months, which prevented her from attending Saturday classes and afternoon classes at school. However, she persevered and studied alone at home, during that time.

Akhona has made it despite illness during a crucial time of the year, and an unsupportive family system. Her advice to the class of 2013 is that they work hard and have a good attitude towards their studies and teachers because attitude goes a long way.

 

Nomathamsanqa Dunga

Achievement: Diploma pass

Thami is a young woman whose fighting spirit saw her overcoming debilitating asthma throughout most of her high school years, to emerge as one of her school’s and IY’s success stories. Diagnosed with asthma while in Grade 9, she had to live with the condition, being hospitalized once after a severe attack.

During her Matric year, Thami faced a hostile learning environment at school, when the school combined the Matric Physics classes. She reports that it was similar to learning with one’s enemies, since relations between learners in different classes were far from cordial, at her school. At times she felt afraid to ask questions due to the abuse that would inevitably come from fellow class mates. However, despite all this, Thami worked hard and persevered and is one of the 2012 success stories.