The Corona Virus has spread quite extensively in South Africa, as a result, much misinformation about it exists and it is causing a number of socio-economic challenges. In response to this, Funzi, a mobile learning service, has together with Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator created an e-learning course,  “COVID-19: Adapt and thrive”. This course is aimed at providing valid and clear information to understand and successfully navigate the coronavirus situation and minimise the spread of the virus. The course also addresses the physical, mental, emotional, social and financial impacts of coronavirus on the lives of individuals, families, communities and society at large. Through increased understanding and calm,  one can focus on how to use this time, most meaningfully to develop oneself for the next phase in life and help others do the same.

This COVID-19 e-learning course is available to all South Africans between the ages 15 and 45, who have access to an internet-connected mobile device. The initiative was initiated on the 28th of March 2020 and was launched in South Africa on the 6th of April. The global course version has also been launched worldwide on the 10th of April.

Good Practice Approach

Mobile technology, in other words, mobile phones and other mobile devices, is the most rapidly adopted technology with the broadest reach globally. Therefore, it is a natural delivery mechanism of choice for informational campaigns and skill-building alike.

The impactful pedagogical approach of Funzi combines information dissemination and skill building with developing a growth mindset, i.e. becoming a proactive problem solver and believing in one’s capabilities to grow and improve. Funzi applies this approach to courses, including the COVID-19: Adapt and thrive course. This course not only teaches users how to adapt by learning about the virus, prevention methods and how to stay healthy but also how to make meaningful use of this time by reframing the situation into an opportunity to develop new skills for future employability or other dreams and thrive.

Funzi has extensive experience from emergencies and crises since 2015 in MENA, Africa, and Asia working with, e.g. UNDPUNOPS, Ministries in Finland, noteworthy NGOs, and private sector organisations. This experience, combined with easy-to-access technology and pedagogical approach, enabled a quick and flexible response. Funzi utilised its tried and tested method of working together with local partners to ensure local relevance and recognition amongst our target audience.

Funzi also has experience in creating scalable mobile learning programs with: a) multiple localised course versions and b) a globally neutral course that also functions as a “template” for further localisations, ensuring an efficient and speedy delivery of localised course versions. In the implementation of the COVID-19 e-learning course, Funzi partnered with Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, as a content partner, localisation expert and partner in outreach to the public. The United Nations in South Africa has also provided support through outreach to public and potential partners.

 

Key Results

  • South African course: 1883 course starts. Course topic completion rates 48-74% (as of 21 April 2020).
  • Global course: 700 course starts. Course topic completion rates 32 – 71% (as of 21 April 2020).

Furthermore, the user feedback is positive and illustrates the usefulness of the course:

”Hi. Funzi was so Interesting I’ve learned so many things especially reason of lockdown now I know reason of that.”

”Thanks for the new knowledge that you have giving me through these hard coronavirus is being a pleasure to learn about it and I will share with other so that they may up date their mindset. And life go on too.”

”I like Funzi very much because it gives me light to how I can deal with Covid-19 it gives me strength that i will beat this virus big thanx 4 harambee may Jah bless harambee and guide the work of that organization

I love it because I’ve learned a lot about covid19 and I’m happy about it”

Lessons Learnt (Success Factors & Challenges)

Success factors

  • The partnership with Harambee has been the great enabler of success; collaborating the approach of Funzi and Harambee provided “on the ground” knowledge.

Challenges

  • The situation changes quickly and people easily become inundated with information about the coronavirus and become fatigued.  Therefore, the messaging needs to adapt with a greater emphasis on the future as opposed to initial emergency information on hand hygiene, social distancing etc.
  • Another challenge has been moving forward fast enough with new national localization partners in other countries, with conversations ongoing but no decisions made yet

Moving Forward…

The future of the COVID-19: Adapt and thrive course is to expand to new countries with localized versions. Funzi has experience on the model with which to create scalable learning programs.

As information fatigue on the coronavirus sets in, the intent is to increasingly direct learners to more future-oriented courses, like those of the Funzi Future Pack, including courses on entrepreneurship, job seeking, sustainability and futures literacy – to build a new normal.

Resources

COVID-19: Adapt and thrive course available at funzi.mobi/go/thrive

  • If browsing from South Africa, this link will lead you to the COVID-19 in South Africa: Adapt and thrive localized course version
  • If browsing from elsewhere in the world, this link will lead you to the global course version without localized information

United Nations in South Africa press release about the collaboration: http://www.un.org.za/press-release-un-in-south-africa-joins-funzi-in-launching-an-e-learning-course-on-covid-19/

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This article was originally published on the AUDA-NEPAD website under the African Skills Portal for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship (ASPYEE) category. Access the original article at https://www.nepad.org/skillsportalforyouth/good-practice/funzi-mobile-learning-course-adapt-and-thrive-during-covid-19.

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