A a group of university students from Dub’s Mathematics Programme developed the Quarantine E-Learning Programme for Grade 11 and 12 learners using WhatsApp. Picture: Indranil Mukherjee
A a group of university students from Dub’s Mathematics Programme developed the Quarantine E-Learning Programme for Grade 11 and 12 learners using WhatsApp. Picture: Indranil Mukherjee

Tutors use WhatsApp as a tool to help learners from under-resourced communities

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Aug 6, 2021

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Cape Town - To support learners from rural areas and townships during the closure of schools under the Covid-19 lockdown level 4, a group of university students from Dub’s Mathematics Programme developed the Quarantine E-Learning Programme for Grade 11 and 12 learners using WhatsApp.

Dub’s Mathematics Programme founder and UCT Maths final year student Mthandeni Sithole said their non-profit organisation was formed by Stem students from different universities across the country to empower learners from disadvantaged communities through education.

The group originally planned to host contact winter classes for learners but due to the Covid-19 alert level 4 regulations, they had to rethink methods of delivering their tutoring services which led to them using WhatsApp as a tool to facilitate online learning.

“Despite the fact that learners from rural communities had no access to different kinds of technology, WhatsApp seemed to be the most accessible, affordable and used technology in rural communities.

“This is because WhatsApp itself is free and the network providers have managed to make WhatsApp data slightly cheaper compared to the normal internet data,” said Sithole.

“Some of these learners wouldn’t have done any studying during the schools closure had our programme not assisted them,” Sithole said.

The group also recently hosted a career expo on WhatsApp after it realised that many learners were ill-informed about the occupations currently in demand in South Africa and were only aware of careers in medicine, nursing, law, education and engineering- There were speakers from Siemens Digital Industries Software, Sehlukosami Foundation, Yezori Wellness Centre, Matimatolo Youth In Action and Durban University of Technology.

Zolethemba High School pupil Yonela Jonas started the programme last month and has received assistance for English, Physical Science and Maths.

Dzata Secondary School matric pupil Mabuduga Phuluso said: “They helped us tirelessly and sometimes in the evenings. I'll forever be grateful to them because they took their time just to teach us.”

Sithole said: “We plead to individuals, companies and the Department of Education to assist our organisation with donations to expand our WhatsApp tutoring system as we believe that it is a quick and cheap solution to learning difficulties faced by learners from under-resourced communities across South Africa.”

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