On the 21st of March 2020, the President announced a total shut down of the country due to the spread of COVID-19. This announcement had an immediate impact on our work. Our programmes rely on face-to-face tutoring and this meant we had to innovate and ensure learners in our programmes continue to receive support.
After the shutdown, we immediately shifted our programmes online. We established WhatsApp groups, categorised by grade, and by subject stream.
With the support of our donors, who provided funding towards data, we managed to purchase data for learners in our programmes to ensure their learning continues. We also managed to purchase cell phones for Grade 12s, to ensure they get adequate support in preparation for the final exams.
The participation and engagement rates in the WhatsApp groups met our expected target of 40% and 60% of the learners respectively, therefore the uptake of the online tutoring has been positive. Given the realities of device access and data challenges, we are encouraged by the number of learners we are reached.
Emerging opportunities out of the crisis
- With the shift to online learning, we now have better access to and participation of the grade 12s. Ordinarily, a lot of schools have their own after school activities, which are unfortunately not geared towards learner individual support.
An opportunity we have identified is the possibility of extending the online academic support platform beyond the crisis especially for Grade 12s.
- Where learners are not able to access the branch because of distance to the branch, or timing etc, we see an opportunity for learners to still continue online attending sessions after hours and on Sundays.
“The WhatsApp groups have helped me through hard times of studying. Studying by my own the whole day is not an easy thing to do but I chose to study 5 hours at midnight while watching 319 and I’m grateful that IkamvaYouth has exercises for us to practice with and thank you for being there for us through hardships” – Thembela, grade 12
“The online platform has challenged me to know the learners better in order to keep them motivated and committed. Learners appreciate a word of encouragement every now and then and the airtime incentives also encourage them to participate. I have seen learners practicing peer to peer support more on the platform. I am happy by the progress I see daily from the learners.” – Mashudu, tutor