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IT tools provide underprivileged in South Africa better education

IT tools provide underprivileged in South Africa better education

IT students from Aalborg University are in South Africa to provide schools with digital tools. Tools that help children learn as well as helping schools and teachers improve teaching

Last modified: 16.09.2019

A group of IT students from Aalborg University (AAU) are currently in South Africa where they are offering schools in slum areas digital tools for mathematics education. In addition to helping kids, the tools also provide data to teachers and schools who are using it to improve teaching. The latter is the most important aspect because it creates long-term and lasting changes – fully in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4: quality education.

Intuitive presentation of data

The four AAU students working on the project come from two different programmes; Jacob Vejlin Jensen and Johan Hempel Begntson are studying computer technology while Rasmus Broholm and Olga Pilawka are studying information studies. The first is a technical science programme while the latter is a humanities programme. All four students are in South Africa to make a difference based on an interdisciplinary collaboration with the non-profit organisation Green Shoots, who is heading the project.

‘We’ve spent the last week visiting schools, seeing how the tools are being used and talking to teachers and pupils. It's a great system and the kids are really engaged. But we can see that some of the teachers find it difficult to put the data they’re getting on student learning to use. This is where we can use our knowledge to present the data in a more intuitive way and help them become better teachers,’ explains Rasmus Broholm.

Handling data is also an area where computer technology students Johan Hempel Begntson and Jacob Vejlin Jensen can contribute.

‘In our programme, we learn about databases and networks, and that’s exactly the knowledge that Green Shoots needs in order to be able to expand the system. And for us as students, it’s great to do something that is actually being used and makes a positive difference,’ says Johan Hempel Bengtson.

Good partnership between NGO and AAU

Jo Besford, the director and a co-founder of Green Shoots, is enthusiastic about the students from Aalborg University:

‘We are delighted with our relationship with Aalborg University. The students are good at understanding the context we work in and coming up with workable solutions. This also means that when they come back and visit us, they can see exactly how they’ve contributed and what a difference it’s making for schools, teachers and kids every single day.’

This is the second time students from Aalborg University are working with Green Shoots. The project is part of an AAU interdisciplinary initiative where students work with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals across fields of study.

Fact Box:

  • Green Shoots, who is heading the IT project, is a nonprofit organisation that aims to ensure quality education for children and young people in Africa. Learn more here: https://www.greenshootsedu.co.za/
  • The IT project is so popular that it is already in use at 339 schools in the Western Cape.
  • The even greater ambition is to reach far more schools in both South Africa and other African countries.
  • Today, only a few of the pupils in the slum areas of Africa pass 6th grade mathematics.
  • The AAU students' travel to South Africa is supported by IT-Vest and Aalborg University.

Contact information:

Jens Myrup Pedersen, Associate Professor, Tel.: +45 99408771, Mobile: +45 21847931, jens@es.aau.dk
Nelly Sander, Press Contact, Technical Faculty of IT and Design, AAU, Tel.: + 45 99402018 nsa@adm.aau.dk