Blog Post

South Africa wrap-up

We wrapped up our stay at Ramosadi Primary yesterday, and in addition to the game that the learners completed and shared, a highlight was a video skype call between Ramosadi and Spectrum Primary, the other project school.  Most of the call consisted of the learners introducing themselves (which was exciting in itself, since most of the learners had never experienced a video call), but importantly, the Ramosadi learners had played the game made by the Spectrum group, and when one of the Spectrum kids asked if the Ramosadi kids liked their game, a resounding "Yes!" filled the room. In our explanations of DIGW we had emphasized that kids and adults all over the world would be able to play the finished games, but here was a palpable reaction from a visible audience of peers in another city.  The Ramosadi learners in turn asked the Spectrum learners to play their game when they get a chance, and to post comments online.

Overall, we were very pleased with what the learners at both schools were able to accomplish in such a short time, and excited about the possibilities for the future.  We're indebted to Sam, Sydney, and their staffs for incredible support and flexibility at a very busy time (the school year in South Africa starts in mid-January), to Thabang -- the M-Ubuntu technical support person stationed at Ramosadi -- and of course to Theo and Lucy for invaluable connections, advice, and many hours of logistical support.

(More photos are on our Flickr photostream, and the solitaire version of the Ramosadi game can be accessed directly at http://ow.ly/11UXT)

Skype between Ramosadi and Spectrum schools

Earnest, a grade 6 learner at Ramosadi, presents the game he and some of his classmates made to other grade 6 learners.

Postscript: Between the two schools we worked in over the past two weeks and one more that we visited briefly in Cape Town, we've seen a tremendous diversity in terms of culture and language.  English is spoken quite widely at Spectrum, where a variety of languages are spoken in the learners' homes, including Zulu (isiZulu) and Sutu (Sesotho); Afrikaans is taught as a second language there, in part because it is politically easier than choosing to teach one of the other indigenous languages. At Ramosadi, in contrast, most learners and educators speak Tswana (Setswana), and so while English is the official language of instruction, in practice a mix of Tswana and English is used.  At the school near Cape Town, De Rust Futura Academy, Afrikaans is the primary language and English is taught at a second language -- which makes sense since many of the learners are so-called "colored" (mixed-race) who speak Afrikaans at home, but that in itself a complex situation, because Afrikaans has such a strong association with white rule during apartheid. And then there are long-standing tensions between whites of English decent and Afrikaners, plus communities of ethnic Indians and Malays stretching back hundreds of years....  In a word, we have barely scratched the surface of this incredibly complex country, and the cultural implications of our projects are much more complicated than we ever imagined.

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