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Basic education dept provides teacher-support via WhatsApp

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To support and empower teachers, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has rolled out a real-time digital learning and mentorship tool accessible via WhatsApp.

The DBE says the new TeacherConnect tool has a collection of valuable information and resources that allow for deep engagement and feedback opportunities for teachers via WhatsApp.

It also features training and development modules for teachers, weekly video and text-based resources, guidance on how to develop critical 21st century competencies in learners, and access to digital professional learning communities and support from highly-skilled teacher development coaches.

“The TeacherConnect platform has come at just the right time, as we work to get schooling safely back on track,” says DBE minister Angie Motshekga. “The new normal can be stressful, but with good quality information we can make good decisions that help us beat COVID-19 and get back to normal as swiftly as possible.”

The DBE indicates TeacherConnect has also integrated HealthCheck, a COVID-19 digital pre-screening, risk assessment and mapping tool. This is to boost teachers and the whole school community’s health screening efforts.

Developed for the Department of Health (DOH) by Praekelt.org, using Turn.io machine learning technology, HealthCheck is already being utilised by tertiary institutions across the country, with almost 3.5 million checks already completed to date.

Praekelt.org has also been instrumental in helping the World Health Organisation develop its own WhatsApp messaging helpline, which is used to get accurate COVID-19 information directly into the hands of the public.

Motshekga explains that before entering the school premises, learners and staff should show they have completed the daily health check and are cleared to continue to the grounds.

For those classified as moderate or high risk, they will be entered into the DOH’s tracking and tracing process. “This is part and parcel of our final onslaught against COVID-19 as we gradually open our economy but also put everything in place to protect our education and all its related benefits.

“We think it will give some confidence to parents and caregivers about all the different safety measures that we are putting in place to make sure that our children, in particular, and our teachers and entire school community remains safe,” states the minister.

To access the TeacherConnect tool, users can save 060 060 3333 as a contact and then message the word ‘hi’ to start a conversation.

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