What problem are you trying to solve?
It’s no secret: South Africa’s education system is failing. A recent report by the IEA found that 78% of Grade 4 children in South Africa cannot read for meaning in any language and a 2015 TIMSS study found that Grade 5 pupils reported the highest occurrence of bullying out of 49 countries surveyed. The problem, as we see it, is that there is entirely too much focus on meaningless academic milestones rather than thinking about what is necessary to build better future citizens. This problem affects nearly every young person in South Africa, particularly in rural areas where education is sub-par and there are fewer early learning opportunities. Without self-esteem and other Game-changing Skills, children go through life hating school and are often unable to find work – perpetuating feelings of defeat and victimisation. Thus, you have a country with an irrefutably poor education system and one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the world. We’re going to change that…
What is your solution to this problem?
Our proprietary curriculum disrupts traditional educational models by moving away from rote memorization – encouraging curiosity, inquiry-based learning & a level of rebelliousness. It aims to build academic skills (literacy, numeracy, and empirical thinking) as well as Game-changing Skills (Creativity, Empathy, Self-esteem, Critical thinking, and Perspective) that are necessary for developing resilient, lifelong learners who feel empowered to create a better world. Through 3L, educators will have free access to an easy-to-implement curriculum (which requires few resources & uses mostly recycled materials), video tutorials, online training, and a discussion forum; the curriculum is easily adaptable to multiple contexts – educational institutions or after-school programmes, rural or urban. In the short term, we envision 3L being used by after-school programmes & NPOs but our long-term goal is to catalyse a learning revolution nation-wide and eventually on a global scale.
What is your latest update on your innovation?
Our After-school Programmes began in 2008 by offering homework help, but we quickly realised that it simply wasn’t enough to effect meaningful change, so we came up with a new plan: a curriculum that embraces fun through superheroes like Ironman, artists like Ai Weiwei, and musicians like Bob Marley; that encourages children to ask questions & test their boundaries; that facilitates emotional healing, fosters personal growth & learning, and helps children develop Game-changing Skills that will empower them to determine their futures. This new model is being applied in our own After-school Programmes, which are led by local youth & impact 717 children/youth in 6 schools in rural KwaZulu-Natal daily and piloted with 6 NPOs in the Eastern Cape, who are eager for more curriculum resources. Several other NPOs and government organisations have expressed interest in using our curriculum as well, thus catalysing the need for 3L, which will enable us to create change on a much larger scale.