Khutliso Daniels learners chat about #SDcardMakhanda

Interviewing learners about the SD cards
Interviewing learners about the SD cards

By Rozelle Hartzenberg

Driving through town on our way to Khutliso Daniels Secondary School, the general sentiment in the car was that these high school learners were going to eat us alive. I voiced those sentiments to the other Journalism students. Despite the fact that we had been high school learners not more than three to four years ago, we were afraid that these learners were not going to give us the time of day. These fears fuelled by our collective memory reminding us how ‘challenging’ we were in high school and what our reaction would be to a bunch of University students coming to ask questions? 

The learners were casually finishing lunch while we stood there, waiting for our assigned learners’ names to be called. We were looking at them and they were looking at us – for some of us I’m sure it felt like they had walked into the lion's den and were trying not to show their fear. 

It was a baseless fear. At least for me. 

Before an awkward silence could settle on our little group of five, I quipped and they laughed. They had a lot to say – and as a journalist, it was my responsibility to make the atmosphere comfortable enough for them to say it. 

I had four assigned learners. There was Dasa – the only girl. Big smile and denying allegations of being the most talkative in class the whole way through. Hlumelo was vocal and eager to give feedback on the SD Card project. Siya seemed like an undercover class clown – a jack in the box waiting for the most opportune moment to pop out. And Dondashe was quiet – a case of little to say, but whatever he says carries great value. Interacting with them made me wish I could go back. 

The general feedback was that the SD cards worked. It was a great project that gave access to so many resources. The group of learners were in consensus that the explanation videos for each topic within subjects and the past papers were the most useful. If possible, they would like more of these to be uploaded to the SD cards, especially in Business Studies, and Life Sciences which had no past papers. Surprisingly, each of the learners requested that Life Orientation be uploaded to the SD cards – a subject that we thought was optional. Dasa requested that her SD card be corrected – since she is doing isiXhosa and English Home language and not First Additional Language. 

The most glaring gap however was that not all of the students have phones. Siya and Dondashe are both without phones. Siya sometimes borrows his sister’s phone to access the SD card material, while Dondashe has to borrow his friend’s phone. This is a gap that needs to be filled, but the question is how? After all, one cannot use an SD card without a device to access it. 

The learners shared that one area where Vulindlela can definitely assist is the process of applying to various universities and colleges. This task seemed daunting with them not even sure where to begin. Not being accepted is one thing, but not being able to have a chance to throw your name in the metaphorical hat, is something completely different. Hlumelo wants to go to a college and learn a trade with his hands. Siya and Dasa want to study at Rhodes university but are not sure at all what to study. And Dondashe wants to become a lawyer. 

Without entering the generic ‘they have big dreams’ rhetoric, these learners do have hopes and fears for their lives. Aspirations they would like to fulfil. Projects such as this one and the University itself is perfectly positioned to allay these fears and bolster hopes. To make aspirations something more concrete and attainable for the learners.