Siya Kolisi partners with iStore to drive digital learning

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Siya Kolisi, co-founder of the Kolisi Foundation and Springboks captain.
Siya Kolisi, co-founder of the Kolisi Foundation and Springboks captain.

Apple’s iStore SA has collaborated with e-learning organisation iSchoolAfrica and Springboks captain Siya Kolisi to host free online workshops to help SA’s matriculants navigate the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on education.

The workshops form part of the #MyFuture programme, an e-learning initiative focused on assisting matric students in rural and township areas, and those whose futures are now in jeopardy due to the disruption caused by COVID-19.

The #MyFuture campaign was introduced last month by iSchoolAfrica, in collaboration with iStore and the Kolisi Foundation, to provide10 000 South African matriculants with tablet devices, data, live study sessions and curriculum materials to help them continue with their studies during the current crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced more education to be done remotely.

Last week, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced SA will have to close all its public schools again for a month, and extend the 2020 school year into 2021, as the country grapples to contain the increasing surge in COVID-19 cases.

Established in 2009, iSchoolAfrica brings technology and classroom practices to township and rural schools. Through its various programmes, the organisation says it uplifts and improves the lives and quality of education for the youth of SA.

During the workshops, Kolisi hosts a roundtable discussion with matriculants from all over SA, via the Zoom video-conferencing platform, and answers questions posed by the scholars relating to education and how to deal with life challenges.

“It’s so great to be talking to matrics today because the challenges they face during this period are in many ways similar to the challenges I faced as a scholar, where there were times when I could not always attend school due to socio-economic challenges, but I always had to remain positive,” said Kolisi, during a workshop on Saturday morning.

“At my school, we didn’t have a computer room or live virtual learning sessions like scholars of today do, but our teachers were always there and often took on the role of being more than just teachers. That is why in partnership with iStore and iSchoolAfrica, we are working as hard as we can to give you an opportunity because you are our future leaders and we are here to equip you with the tools you need to create a brighter future for yourselves.”

Kolisi, who co-founded the Kolisi Foundation with his wife Rachel Kolisi, discussed his difficult upbringing and how growing up in abject poverty, raised by his grandmother, encouraged him to work hard in order to one day help other children to have a better life than he did.

He pointed out that the #MyFuture programme aims to ensure school pupils, who already have enough challenges, are not further disadvantaged by COVID-19 and the school closures.

The next workshop takes place on Saturday, 1 August, at 9am via Zoom.

iSchoolAfrica is in the process of setting up a consortium of partners, with the aim of assisting thousands of matrics by supplying a digital learning tool kit, which consists of pre-used, refurbished iPads, Grade 12 learning material and content, study groups and data to support the learners who have fallen behind with their curriculum.

“Over the past few months, the world has changed in ways that we could have never imagined,” saidMichelle Lissoos, director of iSchoolAfrica, also speaking during the workshop.

“Schools across the world have closed, and in theory we know that technology can make this period as less disruptive as possible for pupils. But in SA, the reality is very different because most of our students don’t have access to devices, quality digital content and data, among other things, and it is with this in mind that we launched the #MyFuture programme.”

The goal of the #MyFuture campaign is to raise R5.2 million before 2 October.

Those who want to get involved with #MyFuture can do so in three ways. The first is to trade in their iPad at an iStore. Those who do so, will get reduced prices on other device purchases.

Other ways of contributing are through the #MyFuture crowdfunding campaign, which is now live, or by visiting the Web site for more information on how to donate.

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