The recent problems with textbook deliveries in Limpopo received much attention. What is less well know is that currently all grade 10,11 and 12 learners in country have the opportunity to read a government-approved mathematics and science textbook on their mobile phone.
By releasing the openly-licensed educational content through every available channel it is possible to reach learners directly and thus empowering and enabling them to learn in their own time.
At the end of last year DBE printed more than 2,3-million copies of the openly-licensed Everything Maths and Everything Science textbooks, which have been distributed to most schools around the country. These textbooks were created and released by Siyavula under an open copyright license which allows anybody to copy, print and distribute them.
Siyavula has endeavoured to make these textbooks available on as many platforms and devices as possible. One platform that simply cannot be ignored is the mobile phone. Currently South Africa has a mobile penetration of 105% and of that 60% of all users have WAP-enabled phones.
Since the start of the school year many learners have been reading these texts over their mobile phones. As of last week the Everything Maths and Everything Science textbooks have been released to read for free over the MXit platform. Mxit only needs a WAP-enabled phone to run and works on more than 3 000 mobile device models. Over 70% of Mxit users are between the ages of 15 to 25, which is roughly coincides with the FET education phase.
This platform is not just available to learners with expensive phones but that the average learner in the country are regular MXit users and will thus have access to these free educational resources.
This means that most Grade 10,11 and 12 maths and science learners in the country have access to a textbook, regardless of whether they received a printed copy or not.
Asked whether learners would actually read their school textbook on such a small mobile screen phone, Carine Grobbelaar says: “Learners are as comfortable reading the textbooks over mobile phones as they are the hardcopy version, in many cases they actually prefer the mobile version as it’s lighter to carry and always on them. Learners fondly refer to them as ‘the textbook in my pocket’.”