The British Council, together with the Department of Basic Education today launched the Learn English Audio Project (LEAP), which will provide solar-powered MP3 players to remote and rural schools to help children improve their English listening and speaking skills.
The LEAP MP3 players, piloted in selected Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal schools earlier this year, allow teachers to upload up to 40 hours of audio learning content, teacher guides and lesson plans for Grades R to four. Each MP3 player also comes with a book full of primary school songs and stories and a set of colourful cartoon story posters.
“These [listening and speaking] skills become even more important in the acquisition of a second language such as English in the South African context, where English effectively becomes the medium of instruction from Grade 4 onwards,” said minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga at the launch in Johannesburg.
Teachers will be trained on how to use the LEAP MP3 players and also receive a training video, lesson plans and posters and an extra SD card containing all the materials, so that they can access it on their cell phones.
“This is a long-term strategic partnership with the department. We signed a five-year partnership agreement, through which we aim to improve learning of all languages in South Africa,” said Colm McGivern, British Council country director for South Africa.
South Africa is the tenth African country to have LEAP MP3 players introduced to schools. The project has already been successfully rolled out to Nigeria, Rwanda, Mozambique, Sudan, Tanzania, South Sudan, Senegal and Ethiopia.
“By the end of our five-year partnership, we will ensure that we help the Department of Basic Education train all 400 000 teachers in South Africa in the better use of the material to improve the learning of all languages in the country,” said McGivern.