Technology boost for Christel House kids

A serendipitous collaboration between two technology companies will see learners from Christel House, a private school for the poor based in Ottery Cape Town, gain access to a new dimension of learning that will boost their chances of breaking the cycle of poverty and building a meaningful life and career for themselves and their families.

By sponsoring a Christel House team of runners in the recent Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, Global retail software company, GK Software, helped the school to raise almost R200 000. The funds came at the perfect time to invest in a new student mind activation system developed by LectorSA, had just made their product available to the school at a discounted rate.

Nicky Sheridan, CEO of Christel House, says that the timing of the two donations was perfect.

“The school is blessed to have such donors and partners,” he said. “These two donors saw a need and stepped up to help us fill it. Our sponsors enable us to continue to offer state-of-the-art private school education to more than 750 learners from some of Cape Town’s most desperate areas.”

Despite their difficult home lives and backgrounds, Christel House pupils all go on to achieve significantly well. More than 90% of the school’s graduates are either gainfully employed or furthering their studies. In 2015 the school achieved an 85% Bachelor pass rate, which is way above the national average.

Sheridan commented that the digital age has transformed the way people learn and for youngsters not to be exposed to technology solutions in the classroom can be disempowering. “High-performance environments are here to stay and they require effective solutions which will give young people the opportunity to take charge of their own lives and futures. Technology has the potential to help close the gap in education, but it also has the power to exacerbate it if disadvantaged children do not have access to it,” he said.

According to Deon Marshall, Solutions Advisor of LectorSA, their Lab-on-line Eye-Brain Gym and Virtual Reading LAB is based on more than 30 years of research and development. The system is cloud-based and has a proven track record of effective intervention and development of crucial skills - these include perceptual skills, visual efficiency, reading fluency, sight vocabulary, and language and comprehension skills.

“Governments across the globe are spending millions in upgrading and redeveloping curricula in an effort to improve education outcomes, but the greatest challenge lies in bridging the gap between the student and the information they are supposed to study. Students are struggling to keep up with their studies,” he says.

“Our world needs bigger and better ideas, and we need to produce them together, faster. To create a better future, we must be able to think better. To think better we must be able to read and comprehend better. LectorSA has proven that Visual Development and Reading Intervention can be developed effectively to break through previous patterns in order to advance the future for academic pursuits.
We are looking ahead at a bright future through effective action and intervention with LAB-on-line to increase visual, reading and academic development,” he says.

Emma Murray from GK Software, who not only sponsored the CH runners but completed the 21km race with them, says that Christel House has a strong culture of developing the whole child and not just providing a classroom experience. Adding technology to this is a natural outflow.

“GK Software is serious about making Africa a strong and healthy country and we will contribute to growing and developing South Africa in support of our business and our customer base,” she commented.

Sheridan said that Christel House shared GK Software’s vision of developing a strong and healthy country. The school is committed to developing young people to be what he calls “economically active citizens”, young people who will continue to make an active contribution to the economy either by joining existing businesses as excellent employees or by starting their own businesses.

“The future of this country will depend on the quality of its young people,” he said. “At Christel House, working with our donors and partners, we are positively influencing the future by creating well grounded, well-educated and hopeful young people who will go on to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.”