For the last five years, a collaboration between Remgro Limited and the MiDO Foundation has made a significant impact on the development of teachers from under-resourced schools in Stellenbosch through the Remgro Schools Project. Thanks to the commitment of the Corporate Social Investment Department at Remgro Limited and the MiDO Foundation, teachers at 10 schools in Stellenbosch have been taught crucial digital skills and how to integrate technology in the classroom, and use it for administrative tasks.

The MiDO Foundation is responsible for providing Google Level 1 training to schools that form part of the Remgro Schools Project. The Level 1 training focuses on learning how to use Google Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, and Slides effectively. Teachers also undergo mobile device training, which focuses on how to use WhatsApp safely to broadcast information and learning materials to learners, a skill that was particularly useful during lockdown and school closures. In addition, teachers are taught how to develop a website for their school using Google Sites and are provided with training to continue managing the site after the MiDO Foundation exits.

In October 2020, Remgro partnered with Siyavula Education, a technology company which focuses on “building an integrated learning experience, drawing on the benefits of open content and adaptive practice for mastery in Maths and Science”. Now the MiDO Foundation is assisting teachers and learners at Lückhoff High School to register on the site as well as teaching them how to use the online mathematics and physical science resources.

We sat down with Cheryl Farao, who is responsible for Corporate Social Investment: Community Projects at Remgro Limited, to find out why the company has been working with the MiDO Foundation since 2017.

Could you tell us how the partnership between Remgro Limited and the MiDO Foundation started?

Remgro Limited started working with the MiDO Foundation after having built a relationship with the non-profit through the Rupert Education Foundation. Dale Simons, the Managing Director of MiDO Technologies, and I sat down in 2017 to discuss how Remgro could bring the MiDO Foundation onboard as a partner for the Remgro Schools Project. Through this Stellenbosch-based initiative, Remgro is pursuing one of its core goals – to ensure that teachers at schools in this area are equipped with digital skills that they can use in the classroom to facilitate learning and to teach those same skills to learners.

The MiDO Foundation has a track record of successfully equipping teachers and learners with digital skills and ensuring they apply those skills in the teaching and learning environment. It was therefore easy to partner with them. The potential benefit that schools in the Stellenbosch area would derive from our partnership was immense.

What does the partnership entail?

Schools have different needs. Our partnership with the MiDO Foundation specifically focuses on empowering educators by teaching them digital skills and how to use technology effectively in the classroom, as well as drive the implementation of technology at their schools.

The training includes Google training level 1 and 2 as well as interactive whiteboard training and mobile device training to support technology integration in the classroom. It’s a flexible partnership that allows the MiDO Foundation to supply tailormade solutions to schools when a technological need arises.

What kind of investment is made in schools through this partnership?

Former partnerships with the MiDO Foundation indicated that teachers that participated in the digital skills development training were better able to use technology in the classroom to aid learning. Learners were able to use technology properly to search for and find educational resources and could also use those resources properly while having the know-how to stay safe online. After Remgro rolled out wifi in schools in the Stellenbosch area, the next natural step was to bring the MiDO Foundation onboard to implement their digital literacy programmes at schools across Stellenbosch to upskill teachers and learners with digital skills.

Remgro also has a close relationship with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and ICT training is a priority for them, specifically e-learning. Remgro wants to support the mandate of the WCED and can do that through our collaboration with the MiDO Foundation. MiDO has already added additional value by providing leadership development training for senior management teams at schools, assisting these schools in drafting ICT business plans, and creating websites and training teachers on how to manage those websites.

What does Remgro hope to achieve through the partnership with the MiDO Foundation in the next five years?

The long-term dream is to empower our learners through technology. Our partnership with the MiDO Foundation gives teachers and learners at local schools a unique opportunity to broaden their educational development by acquiring digital skills and becoming digitally literate by using technology. We are working with schools that are under-resourced, and our goal is for teachers and learners from those schools to have the same opportunities as a teacher and learner from a well-resourced school would have.  So, this is an opportunity to level the playing field in education. One of the things that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed in the spotlight again is the massive digital divide amongst under-resourced and well-resourced schools. We believe that we can use technology to provide learners with the digital skills they need to function in the world now. This pandemic has truly highlighted the value that the MiDO Foundation adds as teachers had to quickly adapt to online teaching and adopt technology to do that.