With billions being spent annually on Corporate Social Investment (CSI) projects in SA and about half that spent on technology-based projects in education, billions may be wasted annually mainly by JSE-listed companies. Poorly managed projects, funds going missing, technology not being properly used and a lack of enthusiasm on the part of project recipients are some of the factors resulting in technology-based CSI educational projects failing.
Sangari South Africa, a locally-based supplier of training solutions, has a history of successful CSI projects in the education sector. The company says there are key issues that need to be addressed as a prerequisite to a successful project. “Engaging with all the stakeholders involved is crucial. This includes headmasters, teachers, parents, regional educational directors, as well as community bodies. Without regional, political and community buy-in, the project could be doomed for failure,” says Bez Sangari, MD of Sangari SA.
“Organisations too often put funding into a project that seems, on paper, to have no downside but is destined for failure because buy-in from all the participants has not been obtained,” he says. “It is crucial to get community involvement in a schooling project. Communicating with parents about the benefits is important. In addition, if parents are offered educational classes at the same facility in the afternoons or evenings this add to the potential success of the project and enhances the utilisation of resources.”
The aim of any successful CSI project is to provide technology that enhances the learning experience, not simplifies it. Teaching systems should aim to convey knowledge and enable teachers to become more than just content experts, but experts in teaching that specific subject matter. “In addition, regularly testing students’ progress is crucial, but often not done. This is because it draws too much on teachers’ time – composing and marking of tests is time consuming and arduous. Technology should be available to test students at any point during a lesson to provide feedback on their assimilation and retention, enabling the teacher to quickly take corrective action,” he says.
“Another goal is to elevate teacher skills and provide more knowledge to both teachers and students. The technology should challenge the student,” says Mr Sangari. “There is a plethora of technology solutions available, but many are ineffective because of an often piece-meal approach to CSI projects. It is important to understand the specific issues and implications being experienced by the recipient institution. Only then should a solution that incorporates benchmarking of current performance, project management, appropriate technology, training, monitoring and evaluation, and regular reporting on the project progress. The technology should become an integral part of the subject being taught and not an add on.”