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South Africa: New Tablet Marks Mobile Education First
Source: Google Alert
Source Date: Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Focus: Internet Governance
Country: South Africa
Created: Nov 26, 2013

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The results of the Department of Basic Education Annual National Assessment tests reveal a bleak situation, says Davies. Only 13% of Grade 9 learners have the requisite mathematics skills for their age, which explains why SA was ranked 143 out of 144 countries for maths and science education in the World Economic Forum's 2012/13 Global Competitiveness Index.
A deficient education system continues to entrench high levels of unemployment and poverty in an economy characterised by a stark imbalance between the demand for, and supply of, skilled labour, Davies explains.
FMT worked with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Unit, in the Eastern Cape, to develop the app that contains the maths and science material. The university provided the content, while FMT developed the menu-driven content management application and provided the skills to commercialise the offering.
"Innovation is driven by need," says FMT joint CEO Tracy Andersson. "In this case, South Africa needs to enhance its maths and science education. This preloaded app helps schools – many without science labs, for example – students and teachers develop their skills in these vitally important education sectors, even when they don't have access to the Internet."
The tablet uses FMT's proprietary software, the Android Content Management System for Education and Enterprise. Its applications can be used in the public and private sectors and can be customised to suit each company's requirements, whether it's a rural health clinic in Limpopo or a JSE-listed company in the Johannesburg city centre, says FMT.
"Even if there are changes to the National Curriculum Statement, upgrades will be available on our Web site," says Davies. "The HDMI port allows for viewing information on a television or projector, making it easy to use for groups of students and teachers."
A lack of computer skills will not negatively impact the value and usefulness of the resource, the company says.
It features term-by-term video lessons, experiments, workbooks, solutions and past exam papers taught by highly qualified mathematics and science professors and teachers, FMT adds. Students can pause, rewind and watch video lessons as many times as they wish. In addition, the content can be bookmarked and highlighted, and footnotes can be added to PDFs.
"It's taken over a year-and-a-half to develop the system and pilot it," says Andersson. "Our goal as a proudly South African technology company is to bridge the digital divide and close that gap. This application is designed to improve our maths and science education for everybody, not just the privileged few. We don't just sell technology; we try to help educate people on how to use it."
The 16GB, 3G tablet retails for R2 999. The Foschini Group will stock the netsurfer SCHOLAR in more than 250 shops nationally.
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