Africa Teen Geeks launched the STEM Digital school in partnership with the Department of Basic Education in response to the call by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Basic Education for civic society to assist the government to keep teaching and learning going during the lockdown, whilst adhering to social distancing required by the COVID19 pandemic. The STEM Digital School has reached over 500,000 learners across the country through the MsZora platform.
MsZora, an artificial-intelligence-based educational platform, has been offering live classes for grades R-12, taught by qualified teachers, as a free online school service available to all South Africans with access to a computer and internet. Classes are recorded and shared on Social media sites such as YouTube for future reference.
Parents and students register on the Ms Zora platform which has just been zero-rated. On the platform, there are learning paths as well as individual subjects and grades. There is also a dedicated coding section. Both formal and informal assessment have been introduced in alignment with the CAPS curriculum and ATP’s.
The digital school approaches teaching using the blended learning approach that is grounded in connectivism and 21st-century learning design. We place an emphasis on game-based learning and the usage of AI in our environment. Our goal is to give everyone an opportunity to be the best they can be in preparation for the 4th industrial revolution and beyond. We focus on student and teacher development and consciously keep up to date with new developments.
This programme supports key strategic goals of the Department of Basic Education’s Annual Performance Plan 2018/2019 by: Improving curriculum delivery as well as Fast track the rollout and implementation of ICT in schools by providing teacher training, ICT devices, digital content, software, connectivity, IT support to schools, and online learner and teacher support material.
Annual targets in the Action Plan to 2019: Towards the realisation of Schooling 2030, that through the following goals:
- Increase the number of learners in Grade 3 who, by the end of the year, have mastered the minimum language and numeracy competencies for Grade 3.
- Increase the number of learners in Grade 6 who, by the end of the year, have mastered the minimum language and Mathematics competencies for Grade 6.
- Increase the number of learners in Grade 9 who, by the end of the year, have mastered the minimum language and Mathematics competencies for Grade 9.
- Improve the average performance of Grade 6 learners in Mathematics.
- Improve the average performance of Grade 8 learners in Mathematics.
- Improve the grade promotion of learners through Grades 1 to 9. This program will support the above goals as it aims to develop computational thinking and problem-solving skills with digital skills that will improve learning outcomes in all subjects, especially MST subjects.
The MsZora Platform
MsZora is an AI-based learning platform for STEM subjects conceived with the chief goal to equalise access and quality of education for all students regardless of their socio-economic circumstances. It was developed in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education.
The platform fulfils multiple purposes:
- MsZora is the ideal teaching assistant in the classroom. It provides relevant and curriculum-focused information that complements teacher intervention and allows them to focus on their students’ specific learning needs.
- MsZora provides students with a personalised tutor inside and outside of the classroom, tailoring the process of learning to suit the requirements of every individual learner. It recognises learning challenges of each student and takes them by the hand as they complete their curriculum.
- Producing real-time feedback for parents, MsZora supports those wishing to understand and aid their child’s learning progress.
- Moreover, MsZora provides valuable, actionable data for the Government, enhancing its ability to address and bolster South Africa’s education system.
- Through the government’s support, MsZora will equalise education in South Africa and beyond, empowering children with access to the same, high-quality educational tools that will ensure their successful future.