by Deborah Torrington
Imbasa Primary, a government school, lies at the heart of the high density township of Old Crossroads. It’s just 20 minutes from the skyscrapers of Cape Town’s city centre. Three months ago we donated a Lifeplayer to Imbasa and today we returned to see how it was being used. After demonstrating to teachers how to operate it, we had left it in their hands to determine how it could best be deployed.
We were delighted that Mrs Ndita, a Grade R (kindergarten) teacher, is now the school’s Lifeplayer expert, and uses it every day. Her class listens to Takalani Sesame (the South African version of Sesame Street) on the radio, which she then records. She plays songs, and records the class singing, as they love to hear their own voices. Mrs Ndita proclaimed that including the Lifeplayer in their daily activities helped engage the children in learning and makes them feel joyful.
Mama Zama, a Grade 6 teacher, is also regularly using the Lifeplayer. Her main concern is how to develop listening and thinking skills among her learners, and she’s keen to find innovative ways of using the it to help her do this. We offered a few suggestions and ideas that she’s going to try.
By the standards of many schools where we’ve worked, Imbasa is well-resourced. It has electricity, a computer lab, and security bars over the windows of its multi-story brick classrooms. Mrs Ndita’s classroom has brightly coloured posters, a toy-filled play area on one side and an art corner on the other, supplies that are unimaginable in many African schools.
We thought that perhaps a Lifeplayer wouldn’t be needed or add much value at Imbasa given the technologies they already have. We were mistaken! The children loved it, and the teachers don’t want to have to share it. They’d like one for each classroom. They also feel it would help them cope with larger classes.
What the Lifeplayer taught us today was that whatever resources a school may or may not have, what children respond to remains the same. They love listening to new voices, they love singing, and they love action songs. They want to be active participants in a lesson, and if that can include movement, all the better!
The Lifeplayer reinforced for us that it’s a great tool for teachers in any classroom – and a wonderful addition for children who’re longing to use their imaginations to learn.