By tpm | September 24, 2010
The Associated Press reported on Thursday about an unusual experiment occurring out of necessity in South Africa. With students preparing for required graduation exit exams just less than a month a way, droves of them are turning for MXit, a popular instant messaging service, for assistance. Specifically, the students are using MXit to get answers to their math questions.
Tutoring by cell phone was made necessary following a nationwide strike of South African teachers just before the all important exams. Students felt unprepared for the tests after the break and needed some extra help. MXit is filling the gap as a cheap and quick way to connect students with tutors.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is spearheading the effort, nicknamed “Dr. Math.” They’ve registered and screened 100 volunteers to help tutor the students via MXit. Students simply download the MXit software to their cell phones, and the software provides them with study materials and a way to connect with tutors.
The Dr. Math program is a piece of good news in what has been a horrible situation in South Africa. Following the teacher strike, students have complained that they won’t be prepared for their final exams. Student protests have been organized, one tragically ending when a police officer opened fire on the protesters and a 17-year old girl was killed.