“E3 supports a broad range of other Department of Basic Education (DBE) programmes, and the TeacherConnect WhatsApp line now has over 150,000 active users. The Department is using TeacherConnect to communicate directly with teachers, principals, and other stakeholders during the pandemic, thereby building the capacity to better equip learners with the knowledge and skills they need for a changing world,” explained Mr James Donald, Executive Director of E³.
While E³ supports teachers to prepare learners for the future the use of technology is helping teachers today. For example, TeacherConnect supported the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI), where close to 320,000 young people benefited from the employment opportunities created during the COVID-19 pandemic. TeacherConnect supported orientation and distributed electronic training manuals and Standard Operating Procedures for COVID-19. “A project of the magnitude and scale of the BEEI required close monitoring. In the context of COVID-19, most of the monitoring could happen remotely using TeacherConnect, which offered easy to use real-time feedback to the DBE teams working hard on this challenging project.”, explained Ms Crysty Swift who heads up the technology workstream of E³.
E³ (Entrepreneurship, Employability and Education) is a national initiative of the DBE in partnership with the Community and Individual Development Association. Initially known as the Entrepreneurs in Schools Programme E³ uses student-centred active learning (including projects and games) in the CAPS to assist teachers in preparing learners for the modern economy. E³ partners with Care for Education to provide training and educational resources to teachers in the Foundation Phase, and all nine Provincial Education Departments project-based learning training and resources from Grade R to 11.
TeacherConnect includes learning and teaching content, as well as development and support resources. With single sign-on to data-free resources, including SACE accredited project-based learning courses, a helpdesk and real-time dashboards. The innovative platform integrates with HealthCheck – the National Department of Health self-screening initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid learning and innovation in the DBE signal the possibility of a social compact post-COVID-19 to address some of the binding constraints in basic education.
The TeacherConnect online platform (accessed through a single sign-on process from WhatsApp) is zero-rated to allow youth and teachers to access life-changing opportunities. WhatsApp “Hi” to 060 060 3333 to experience the valuable services of the TeacherConnect App.
TeacherConnect was partly funded by a COVID response grant of the LEGO Foundation; The LEGO Foundation co-fund the DBE’s E³ programme as part of their investments in learning through play initiatives in South Africa.