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A JumpStart intern helps a student in a South African classroom.

JumpStart Equips Interns to Support Learners in South Africa

COVID-19 Project Overview

In a typical school year, classrooms in South Africa are so overcrowded that teachers can’t give the one-on-one instruction that students often need in subjects like math. As a result, many students fall behind in the basics.

The JumpStart Foundation helps by providing classrooms across the country with quality technology tools and trained interns. During lockdowns due to COVID-19, JumpStart quickly pivoted to help students in its program continue learning math. The foundation also enabled its interns to expand their skills and keep growing professionally.

We were ready and committed to continuing our teaching and learning through our online and distance offering and recognized that parents and family members would need to support, guide, and monitor the learning taking place at home.

Nthabiseng Ngoepe, JumpStart Intern

How it Helps

With textbooks and learning devices remaining in schools during the lockdown, JumpStart relied on digital learning to keep students moving forward in their math coursework. Without the in-person touchpoint to reach their learners at school, JumpStart interns stretched their skills and took on new roles as community coordinators.

JumpStart interns are unemployed youth who reside in the school communities, are trained as math tutors, and are coached in the most effective ways to communicate with children. They receive employment and ongoing professional development opportunities from JumpStart, with the goal of creating a positive experience that encourages future careers in education.

Many JumpStart schools did not have updated contact lists for learners’ caregivers, which made the interns’ connections to their communities that much more valuable. JumpStart loaned the interns mobile phones during the lockdown, enabling them with technology to stay in touch with their learners. The interns provided support in a variety of ways: encouraging use of the JumpStart learning app, helping families procure a device if needed, sending voice notes to parents with virtual learning tips, and even starting WhatsApp groups in their communities to encourage and reward ongoing learning.

JumpStart also invested in online courses for its interns so they could use the time in lockdown to sharpen their skills. JumpStart provided devices and data to interns so they could easily access the online courses. While many interns shared that working remotely with their learners was much different than in the classroom, their dedication to keeping their connections going helped both the students and interns succeed.

These connections will continue to be useful as JumpStart interns, educators, and students navigate learning during the pandemic and return to physical classrooms.

I love working with learners. Seeing them grasp ideas, equipping them with relevant skills for the 21st century, enabling them to do robotics and coding, you watch how their world is being shaped. The opportunity to work with them and see them learning is heartwarming.

Pule Morobi, JumpStart Intern