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The Reach Trust, an NGO which was birthed out of Mxit and holds all of the once might mobile social network’s remaining IP, this week announced the launch of a new service aimed fast-tracking learning among high-school pupils.
Called LevelUp, the new service aims to tackle some of the most critical education challenges in South Africa. Available as both an Android app and mobi site, it is designed to help high school learners to improve their academic performance, strengthen their social skills and foster good learning behaviour.
According to a press release sent to Memeburn, it does so by giving pupils access to contextualised learning material, academic and psychosocial support, and an incentive programme linked to rewards.
That, the trust says, is in line with key learnings from two of its most recent projects: The Ukufunda Virtual School with more than 160 000 learners and the Learn2Earn pilot. LevelUp, it says, is modelled on schools of excellence with a holistic approach to learner wellbeing.
“There’s been a lot of general emphasis on access to information being key to unlocking a learner’s potential. And while it is vital, we believe that inspiration, motivation and rewards play equally important roles,” says Andrew Rudge, CEO of The Reach Trust.
Here’s how the programme is structured:
- The ‘Classroom’ features free curriculum-aligned content from Grade 8 to Grade 12. To make it more interesting for learners, the academic content is presented in a discussion format with links to textbook pages and useful examples.
- Life skills programmes are accessible in a practical step-by-step format to help learners achieve their goals in five comprehensive categories: Career, Creative, Health & Happy, IRL (In Real Life) and Get Ahead.
- The ‘Advice’ section helps learners to find their feet during adolescence with must-know facts, guidance, and a comprehensive directory of support services in 6 useful categories: Love & Relationship, Alcohol & Drugs, Sexual Health, Family Issues, Growing Up and Mental Health.
LevelUp places a fairly large amount of emphasis on reward as a learning mechanism. Its “Daily Challenges” feature, for instance rewards pupils for testing their knowledge on a daily basis.
“We believe that a strong argument can be made for using incentives to stimulate appropriate learning behaviour and to create a long-term learning habit,” says Rudge.
That’s not the only way of earning rewards though, as they’re baked into the entire system. Learners are, for instance, rewarded for inputs such as: “read this article to earn 10 points” as well as outputs — “if you answer correctly on the first attempt you earn 50 bonus points.”
Importantly these virtual points can be redeemed for tangible rewards in a ‘Store’ that works similar to some loyalty programmes. Reward options for performing learners vary from airtime and data to shopping coupons for products. The launch partners include Shoprite and Checkers. “We are thrilled to have Africa’s largest retail group on board from the get-go. We believe that their commitment to education outcomes will enable us to rapidly scale the uptake of LevelUp,” says Rudge.