In underperforming schools, socio-economic conditions and poor quality of teaching are having a direct impact on the literacy and numeracy levels of primary school students. Hands on Tech has a two-prong approach, providing LEGO resources and teacher training to grade R through grade 7 classrooms.
There is strong evidence to suggest that learning through play opens possibilities for holistic child development that includes both cognitive and emotional skills. Creative play is seen as the entry point for influencing performance in mathematics, languages, and life skills.
In 2009, the project was established in Atteridgeville, one of South Africa’s oldest "townships," located west of Pretoria. Twenty-five primary schools were identified, in a phased approach, for the yearlong intervention. The Department of Education assisted in selecting the first five schools and helped communicate goals to other stakeholders.
The LEGO kits include building blocks and workbooks, which are designed to scaffold learning and aligned to the national curriculum. In the Foundation Phase (grades R-3) math, languages, and life skills learning foundations are established through manipulating the age- and stage-appropriate blocks. In the Intermediate Phase (grades 4-6) LEGOs are used to enhance students’ learning of math, science, and technology. In the Senior Phase (grade 7) robotics are introduced to encourage an interest in future technology and engineering.
Students are able to explore, experiment, create, problem-solve, take risks, develop leadership skills, and take ownership for their learning. Groupwork created opportunities for language use in a multi-lingual environment. In addition, this promoted emotional and social skills, such as sharing and teamwork.
Teachers receive initial training, classroom visits, and coaching support. Teacher confidence and motivation were enhanced through exploring new pedagogy, knowledge, and classroom management approaches. It was a paradigm shift for some teachers; for example, if the child is seen as an empty vessel, the teacher-centered ‘chalk and talk’ method of instruction becomes dominant. The student's capacities are overlooked. Through the training, teachers learn to remain accessible, sensitively attune to the children and their need for support, thereby allowing the students to grow in their own learning.
Results showed improvement in learning outcomes, as well as teacher satisfaction and motivation. Interestingly, unintended positive outcomes for students included an increase in attendance rates and improved communication skills.The Lego kits are designed to scaffold learning. Learning through play enhances creativity and builds confidence. Lego is easy to assemble and dismantle, allowing students to fix, rebuild, change, and adapt their problem solving.
Click here to see full program profile
CEI approaches in actionStudent supportLearning materials for studentsSchool supportLearning through Play21st century skills (soft skills)
Model details2009Hybrid (for-profit/not-for-profit)Math/numeracyLiteracyScience & engineering21st century skills (soft skills)ActiveLong-term project0Gauteng Department of Education21,48550%50%
The project specifically chose Atteridgeville on the outskirts of Pretoria, as it is a low income community with underperforming schools. There were enough schools (25) for the project to reach all the primary schools.
ScaleLearners received access to Lego learning resources and improved quality teaching. 700Teachers undergone training in pedagogy, using the Lego resources and workbooks. 25Primary Schools in AtteridgevilleGrade R to Grade 7 classrooms in all 25 schools were equipped with Lego Kits November, 2012
In 2009, the project launched with 5 pilot sites in Primary schools in Atteridgeville, these were identified as 'priority' schools by Gauteng Department of Education. All the schools received support over one year. New Primary schools were phased in each year, totalling 25 by November 2012. A local teacher was employed to champion the project, gain buy-in and project ownership with new schools. Building relationships with teachers and principals took time but was integral to the success of the project. Parents in the local community were happy with the results and were anxious that when their children left the Primary schools there would not be any provision to continue their development. The robotics programme wa sdesigned to meet this need. There are currently 200 learners enrolled in 5 after school centers teaching robotics using Lego innovation.
Based on the success of the Primary school project the team hope to increase their reach to train more Early Childhood Development practitioners.
Monitoring & EvaluationYes
Initial baseline measures were not gathered, but ongoing results show improved learning outcomes, particularly in literacy and numeracy. Teacher job satisfaction increased with access to better learning resources, increased confidence and support. They were able to see the changes in the learners which kept them motivated. Group play resulted in a notable improvement in communication and soft skills for learners. It was also signficant that learner attendance and concentration improved during the project.Internal assessment performanceUser satisfactionAbility to reach the poorTeacher attendanceStudent attendanceNo