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A free online solution has been found to teach Life Orientation to high school pupils

High School Gauteng

Knowing how to do taxes or plan an active citizenship programme can now be easily taught to high school pupils thanks to a new and free, local video platform.

 

People have always commented that some of the stuff taught in Life Orientation (LO), doesn’t prepare anyone for life after school. While learning about HIV/Aids, safe sex and TB is helpful to a point, the curriculum lacks in general life skills, like how to do your taxes, or what credit cards and loans are all about.

Topics like working with debt, how to change a tyre or even how to negotiate on a lease or contract would be really beneficial if taught in school. These are things that happen in life often and the first time they popped up, we felt cheated having never learned them in school.

This is why the subject is being reviewed by the education system and possibly being replaced by African History in 2023.

However, where the subject falls short, a new online platform is looking to fill the gap.

Mila is a website and app, which hosts a large series of videos that feature South Africans, tackling South African-centric issues.

“The idea for Mila was initially started out of a desire to create something to augment the national life orientation, high school syllabus,” said the head of communications for Mila, Tracy Edwards.

However, the Mila content has expanded beyond just the life orientation syllabus, covering topics ranging from self-identify (e.g. “navigating school life as a trans woman”), practical skills (e.g. “how to do your taxes”) to active citizenship (“e.g. how to organize and mobilize for change”) and more.

“Ultimately, because the Life Orientation syllabus is so broad, and Mila expands above and beyond it, the range of videos is going to be very expansive. Mila will be there to help anyone find their way around complex South African issues and hopefully, help inspire youth to get invested in this great country again,” said Edwards.

The voices and presenters that are featured on Mila come from a diverse range of South Africans with authentic, lived experience in the areas that they are speaking on. Mila is like the Khan Academy (free online courses) of life skills, but dealing in South African issues, made by and for South Africans.

Why do you think Mila is needed?

South African role models aren’t South African. South African culture is still heavily influenced by western or American culture. Mila is needed because South Africans need something which is very well produced but with content rooted in our South African experience and identities.

Life orientation is the perfect vehicle to use if you want to do this, but right now, the LO syllabus is presented in a classroom by a single teacher, who is likely not to have experience in all of the many topics that LO covers.

How did Mila start?

Mila was created out of the Forum for Radical and Practical Change (FRPC), an incubator for high-impact, socially progressive, initiatives.

“The FRPC is a place where we have brought together a collection of truly phenomenal people, set on finding very real ways to positively alter the shape of our country. Mila is the first of many education initiatives to come, with our other projects focusing on service delivery, entrepreneurship, healthcare and citizen action,” said Yashodan Naidoo, founder of the FRPC.

A pilot beta version of the website, as well as the first videos, are being launched at this year’s Axis Education Summit taking place at the School of Education in WITS. Axis Summit takes place in Joburg over the 10th-12th July 2018.

The Mila videos are targeted both directly at Grade 9-12 learners, as well as Life Orientation teachers as a resource to supplement classroom discussions. A full launch to the public of Mila is scheduled for January 2019, in line with the school calendar.

The Mila team is creating partnerships with a number of schools and teachers, including the LEAP Maths and Science schools in the Western Cape, to incorporate Mila into their Life Orientation lessons.

The site will launch with a large number of videos available and will release new content on a weekly basis. By 2020, Mila will be delivering videos in all 11 official languages and roll-out nationally, working with other technology partners to ensure that the Mila content reaches schools that require the additional resources most.

The platform will be free to all pupils and teachers. It is currently in its pilot/beta stage and will be available for public access until September 1st 2018, launching fully on January 1st 2019.

For more information, please see the beta version of the site at www.milainitiative.com


Sources: Supplied
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Tyler Vivier
Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy. Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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