Friday, 6 April 2012

Lesotho’s teachers bridging digital divide at the Lesotho PIL Forum finals

Recently Lesotho also held their Partners in Learning Forum, and since SchoolNet partnered with Microsoft in organising this event as well, I am adding a press release of their finals. It is always interesting to read about the types of projects that teachers enter for these competitions. (Unfortunately no photos have been provided.) Furtherdown, in another post you can read about the very recent South African finals of this competition.
 
Maseru, Lesotho – 15 March 2012 – Teachers in the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho are overcoming massive resource shortages in their schools by finding innovative ways of using technology to improve teaching and learning outcomes. 

Just ask Lucille Kabelo Mahlatsi of Leqele High School who walked away with top honours at the Lesotho leg of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Awards in Maseru with a project called “Literature at our fingertips”. In this project learners became familiar with the language and background of Shakespearian play “Julius Caesar” through a number of activities. One group of artists created portraits of complex scenes from the play. The researcher group compared Julius Caesar and Moshoeshoe. The third group conducted a debate and the fourth group modernized and simplified the play whilst the actor group performed the play and made a video of this. 

Khutlang Leshuta from Tsolo Government Primary was one of 12 finalists at the awards, which are sponsored by Microsoft, the Lesotho College of Education and the Lesotho School Technology Innovation Centre in an attempt to stimulate the use of technology in schools. He will represent Lesotho the regional finals of the competition in Morocco in June as the second place winner. His learners investigated the causes of juvenile delinquency by interviewing street children, probation officers, chief, parents, and Juvenile Training Centre officers. Learners then gave their suggestions for combatting juvenile delinquency and these contributions were forwarded to the Tony Pandy College in Wales where the lifestyles of street children are being investigated. 

“Although the majority of Lesotho’s citizens have little or no access to technology, the quality of the entries demonstrated that even the slightest change in how teachers use the technology tools they already have – like a cell phone or laptop – can impact the way teachers teach and learners learn,” said Microsoft South Africa’s Education Lead, Reza Bardien. 

Emmanuel Ekoe Gyasi from Phethahatso English Medium Community School won third place at the Awards. In his project learners investigated soil as a habitat whilst creating an AutoCollage and Photostory to demonstrate what they have learnt. 
“My learners were so excited about having an opportunity to make a movie of Julius Caesar rather than just reading the play. They were able to relate to the story by comparing Caesar to one of their own past leaders, Moshoeshoe” says Mahlatsi. 

Partners in Learning not only recognises innovative teachers who are using technology to enhance learning. It also offers a platform for teachers to network and share their ideas and projects with peers on a national, regional and global scale. 

A 2011 Microsoft-commissioned Innovative Teaching and Learning study revealed that sharing new teaching methods as part of professional development is most effective when the sharing is direct and active, which makes the Partners in Learning Forum “such a brilliant platform”, said Bardien. 

Dr John Oliphant, Rector of Lesotho College of Education echoes this: “Each year the Forum recognises our most innovative teachers at this occasion and we are proud to have them represent Lesotho education and share their ideas and projects with peers on a global scale.” 

2012 Lesotho Partners in Learning Forum – Project Overviews
 
Khutlang Leshuta
Tsolo Government Primary
Juvenile Delinquency
In this project, learners investigated the causes of juvenile delinquency by interviewing street children, probation officers, chief, parents, and Juvenile Training Centre officers. Learners then gave their suggestions for combatting juvenile delinquency and these contributions were forwarded to the Tony Pandy College in Wales where the lifestyles of street children are being investigated.
Emmanuel Ekoe Gyasi
Phethahatso English Medium Community School
Our Soil, Our Soul
In this project learners investigated soil as a habitat whilst also creating an Auto Collage and Photostory to demonstrate what they have learnt. Different learners played different roles in this project – for example being planners, problem-solvers or programmers. The learners were especially concerned about the dongas near their school and asked the village chief to address a school assembly about this topic.
Moeketsi Hlazi
Lebohang Leketa
Masite Primary School and
Theressa James
I do and I understand
An old Chinese adage says “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; but I do and I understand”. In this project, teachers from neighbouring schools collaborated to improve Maths, Science and English results through a series of hands-on activities including building houses out of boxes and electrifying these models. Learners are also working together to produce a school magazine on a DVD.
Makhahiso Kanetsi
Thetsane High School
Conserving Water
This project is about affordable methods of saving water including using less water per toilet flush; designing a simple purifying system and replacing tress which use too much water. Learners have gathered information about these methods of saving water through research and have shared their findings at parent meetings and through brochures. They have also collaborated with the school bursar and Minister of Agriculture.
Makara ‘Maabiele
Thetsane High School
From trash to treasure
In order to reduce littering and the burning of waste, learners aimed to educate their communities about managing litter effectively. They have done this though a range of activities including making and distributing pamphlets, showing people how to sort waste, and learning more about bio-gas production.
Lucille Kabelo Mahlatsi
Leqele High School
Literature at our fingertips
In this project learners became familiar with the language and background of Shakespearian play “Julius Caesar” through a number of activities. One group of artists created portraits of complex scenes from the play. The researcher group compared Julius Caesar and Moshoeshoe. The third group conducted a debate and the fourth group modernized and simplified the play whilst the actor group performed the play.
Mapalesa Bridget Maimane
Thetsane High School
An African Mosotho Child versus Development
At initiation school, Mosotho children learn traditional values and respect, yet drug abuse, prostitution, Aids and suicide continue to plague communities in Lesotho. In this project, learners research these topics to establish whether these phenomena occur in other communities. The learners also network with other learners to find ways of overcoming a range of community problems.
Mathaabe Majara
Thetsane High School
Turning a lemon into lemonade
The community in which this school is situated is littered with many plastic bags. The learners sought to overcome this problem by finding useful items that could be made from the litter. The learners visited villagers who make plastic products as well as craft industries. Here they took photos and honed their communication skills by conducting interviews.
Relebohile Mosoloane
Thuto ICT Club
Thuto ICT Club
The Thuto ICT Club was formed by the Basotho Youth in 2011 in the Maseru District. The club currently has thirty nine members who aim to develop and use ICT skills for planning and helping community and rural schools. Club members enjoy sharing their experiences through social networking and participate in field trips and community projects.
Sekhobo Motlohi
Mamotlohi Matholi
Thuto-ke-leseli and Toloane Primary school
Bad Dirt
In this project, learners from two schools collaborated to find out the causes of pollution in their area and to find ways of addressing this. Activities included poetry and song competitions and debate. In addition to raising awareness of the community about the causes and effects of water pollution, the project encouraged teamwork between learners and teachers of a range of subjects.
Mpho Phakisi
Phethahatso English Medium Community School
Not just adults - but also children
In this project learners researched the topic of human trafficking and collaborated with Freedom Link and the Child Protection Unit to raise awareness through a fun walk. Some of the tasks undertaken as part of this project included designing a poster, developing a questionnaire, conducting interviews and sharing findings using Facebook.
Thabiso Shobane
Mokhokhong Primary School
Clay: A means to an end
This school lacks adequate learning materials and teaching aids as these are expensive. To overcome this challenge learners have modelled teaching resources out of clay – for example three dimensional shapes and figurines of animals. Photographs of these shapes have been included in PowerPoint presentations. Learners have also interviewed a traditional potter and recorded the interview using cell phones and digital cameras.

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