How Baobab Primary School is leading the way with CENTURY in Botswana

Posted on 4th July 2022

Posted by CENTURY

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Baobab Primary School is an independent Curro Select school in Gaborane, Botswana, that provides high-quality education for young learners in a 21st-century skills learning environment. Through teachers’ dedication and pupils’ enthusiasm for learning, they have become one of Curro Independent School Network’s highest CENTURY users. 

We caught up with teacher Donné Woodford-Kotze to find out how they have integrated CENTURY into teaching, why their engagement is so high, and what impact the platform is having on pupils. 

When CENTURY is used

Being in Botswana, we have to be very flexible in terms of when the platform is used because most of our kids don't have access to devices 24/7. We ask them to try to log in twice a week from home whenever they can, which is often over the weekend when the parents are able to lend them their devices, and to spend some time really engaging with the platform. 

The children also have access to a device in school when they have a computer or robotics lesson. So during computer lessons closer to the end of term, we give them more time to be active on CENTURY as part of our revision strategy, which helps to ensure that they understand everything that we've covered. 

Another thing that teachers have started to try out is popping CENTURY up onto our own screens, and then watching the video and working through the question sets together with the pupils. That allows us to make use of the platform with just one device, and helps the children, who aren’t all confident using technology, to understand exactly how the platform works. 

Why the engagement is so high

We run a monthly CENTURY competition, which helps a lot. Once a month, the top learner in each class wins a free meal, and then the rest of their class are awarded certificates as well. To be the ‘top learner’, you can’t just be logged in, you have to have an average score of about 85% or above, and you must have been using the platform for English, maths and science, not just one subject. 

Each class has a leadership board, so we can follow who is doing what, and the classes compete with each other. The kids love it. Ultimately, whether it’s through a competition or otherwise, the key to driving engagement is keeping it fun. 

The impact CENTURY is having on learners

For pupils who I know have been really struggling with things like sentence structure - for example, understanding and using simple, compound and complex sentence structures - their essay writing has definitely improved as a result of exposing them to enough relevant nuggets on CENTURY and asking them to redo these if necessary.

I actually used it this week in our remedial lesson and it's amazing to see how their writing has shifted from being very dull and simple, for example starting a story with ‘once upon a time’, to using all different types of sentence structure. It's something that they are aware of and understanding now, which was a struggle in the beginning. So there's definitely been an improvement there. 

Additionally, because they are now getting it right outside of CENTURY, they can see that it works and they want to go back and do even more. It gives them a sense of accomplishment that they didn't used to have. They are definitely motivated to use it. 

Pioneering adaptive technology in Botswana

Whenever I say to my class, ‘guys, nobody in Botswana is using this technology other than you right now, did you know that?’, they all say ‘wow, that’s amazing!’. The kids love that; they love feeling like they’re part of this elite group. It’s important to remind them of that and to keep pushing it - after all, we piloted the platform here, and to keep it, we know that we need to keep using it. 

When I arrived here, no one was used to using technology in schools at all; the old orthodox way of learning with pen and paper was just how teachers taught. So when these new technologies were suggested, it was so different to what everyone here was used to. But things are changing. It's taking time, but we are getting there, and I think in the next year or so, everyone will be fully onboard with it.

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