BluPoint partners with Dixons Carphone in South Africa
Fri 4th November 2016
Science Park-based company, BluPoint, has brought free curated educational content to South African schools in a pilot project funded by Dixons Carphone and in partnership with the local Mr Price Foundation.
The pilot comprised 6 primary schools and 9 secondary schools spread over a 200 km2 area in the region of KwaZulu-Natal on South Africa’s east coast. In this region, pupils from rural townships must walk several kilometres to schools that, in many instances, lack the basic amenities that people from developed areas take for granted.
Work began six years ago to introduce a programme of technology education by the Mr Price Foundation, but progress was limited by power outages and unreliable or non-existent internet connectivity. Furthermore, with class sizes often exceeding 30 pupils, the internet connection’s bandwidth (when available) made concurrent learning difficult. When away from school, the children incur airtime costs for using mobile data to continue their learning that is massively disproportionate to their family’s income.
BluPoint has installed multiple hubs into all of these schools, each one creating a local hotspot to which students can connect to access learning materials. The hubs were preloaded with curated content available to the teachers and pupils at no cost and with no requirement for an internet connection. Anyone can access the material using a basic feature phone via Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi device or by listening over FM radio. Pupils can save content offline on their phone to take home and to share with their families too.
With a little instruction, even the young children were quick to use their intuition in accessing BluPoint and soon began teaching one another. An initial concern that the more conservative members of staff might be sceptical about the new technology was unfounded. As one 64-year-old teacher, a self-confessed technophobe, said: “I hate technology, but I love BluPoint, it is so easy to use and only has teaching materials on it. This will revolutionise our childrens’ education.”
The BluPoint team and a select group of Dixons Carphone volunteers will be returning to the schools to evaluate how the technology has helped the teachers and pupils.