The Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (PRASA) has partnered with e-Classroom, an initiative that provides printable curriculum-based educational resources for children, their parents and teachers.
The website – www.e-classroom.co.za – went live in 2011, and has seen its number of unique users skyrocket to more than 600,000. Annual page views number more than 10.5 million, and the platform attracts around 300 new subscribers every day.
“PRASA’s sponsorship helps the e-Classroom team keep valuable material online for users. It also provides educational content support on sustainability and recycling, both of which feature in the Department of Education’s Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS),” says PRASA operations director Ursula Henneberry.
PRASA-sponsored recycling–focused material forms part of the Life Skills content for Grade 3 learners. Recycling as a curriculum topic ensures that learners grow up with an awareness of waste and an appreciation of the importance of recyclability. Content has also been developed for Grade 1 – 6 Mathematics (data handling) and English, using paper products as examples.
Gap to great
e-Classroom was founded by Natalie Wood, who saw a gap in the market for quality educational resources that would be easily accessible, and completely free of charge.
It currently caters for Grades R to 12, focusing on English Language, Pure Mathematics, Life Skills, Afrikaans (as a first additional language), Science, Geography, History and Economic and Management Science.
“Our aim is to have the entire CAPS curriculum online so that anyone in South Africa can access resource content compiled by educators with years of experience in the classroom,” says Wood.
Learners and parents are able to download and print worksheets and revision papers, both during term time and in the run-up to exams. At the same time, busy teachers can print out lesson plans, activities and assessments broken down in to specific learning weeks.
E-Classroom has also launched a maths and science revision paper app, the first of its kind in South Africa, for learners in Grades 7 to 12. This forms part of its new premium content offering for senior phase learners.
Busting the myths of paper use
PRASA dedicates itself to reducing the amount of recoverable paper that goes into South African landfills by progressively increasing the paper recovery rate from households, businesses and schools.
“Together with our parent body, the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa, we are also working very hard to dispel the myth that by reducing the amount of paper we use, we help save the environment.
“Large companies often plead with consumers to ‘go green’ by receiving their statements online. People are frequently asked to ‘think twice’ before printing an email. Both practices promote the myth that paper destroys forests, when in fact the opposite is true.”
Like wheat is farmed for cereal and bread, all paper manufactured in South Africa comes from farmed trees and for every tree harvested, another is planted in its place in the same year.
“Paper is a completely renewable resource, and it is in fact by using paper products that we benefit the environment. This is because paper companies farm trees – huge numbers of which remove harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. To help address climate change, we actually need to use more wood and not less,” she says.
While Wood’s work harnesses the marvels of digital technology to improve teaching and learning, she does believe that paper remains pivotal to the learning process.
“Using a pen and paper definitely boosts memory and the ability to retain and understand concepts. It is also important in the development of fine motor skills. Writing by hand helps youngsters store and internalise ideas, strengthening the learning process, while digital mediums can sometimes impair it.
“When it comes to reading, printed books offer less distraction in the form of interactive apps that take away a child’s focus.
“We do however live in a digital world in which responsible paper use and recycling can co-exist,” Wood concludes.