8 September 2020

SA Dept of Basic Education Launch

HealthCheck on Innovative New WhatsApp Platform

SA Dept of Basic Education and E³ launch COVID-19 digital health assessment tool on chat-based learning platform to assist in schools re-opening

Pretoria, (September, 08, 2020): The Department of Basic Education and E³ have launched the COVID-19 digital pre-screening, risk assessment and mapping tool HealthCheck on the newly launched platform TeacherConnect.

The TeacherConnect platform is being developed as a way to empower and support teachers, by providing access to the best learning content in an ultra-convenient place – WhatsApp!  

HealthCheck is the first tool to be available on the TeacherConnect platform and will play a crucial role in helping to protect teachers and learners as schools reopen. With school communities expected to do a quick and convenient daily symptom-check, HealthCheck will provide a much needed early-warning system to help keep schools open.

Developed for the South African National Department of Health by Praekelt.org, HealthCheck has already been used very successfully at tertiary institutions across South Africa, with almost 3.5 million checks already completed to date. It has also garnered international interest from the likes of the World Health Organisation and UNESCO, who want to help this critical intervention reach as many as possible of WhatsApp’s 2 Billion Monthly Active Users.

As the first step in the Department of Basic Education’s protocol on Screening, Testing and Linkage to Care, teachers, non-teaching staff, and parents (on behalf of their children), should do a daily HealthCheck through the TeacherConnect platform where they will answer a few simple questions relating to COVID-19 symptoms and risk.

The HealthCheck tool will also issue receipts after users complete their pre-screening self-assessment, providing educators, support staff, and parents, an endorsed declaration of their risk level with a validity period of 24 hours.

As it rolls out, TeacherConnect will have a comprehensive collection of valuable information and resources that allow for deep engagement and feedback opportunities for teachers via WhatsApp. The content featured will include Training and Development modules for teachers, weekly video and text-based Resources, guidance on how to develop critical 21st Century Competencies in our learners, and even access to digital Professional Learning Communities and support from highly skilled teacher development coaches.

“The TeacherConnect platform has come at just the right time, as we work to get schooling safely back on track,” says Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. “The new normal can be stressful, but with good quality information we can make good decisions that help us beat COVID-19 and get back to normal as swiftly as possible.”

“It is abundantly clear that additional support is needed for teachers, non-teaching staff and indeed our learners. The TeacherConnect platform will help the basic education sector in providing much needed information for schools. There are a few months left before the end of the school year and the HealthCheck service in particular will help us to keep going and eliminate the need to close schools again due to health fears.”

“The  E3 team is extremely grateful to have built with the leadership of the DBE, nationally and in all the provinces, a technology tool that will allow, on a moment by moment basis, for Health outbreaks to be quickly and proactively identified,” adds E3 ‘s National Chairperson, Taddy Blecher.

“In this way, in any school, community, district, or province, teachers can be better protected, millions of lives can hopefully be kept safer, and those with higher health risks can be alerted timeously, and get the care they need in order to get well. Through working to create a proactive, daily, early-warning system, this tool can assist to keep schools open, and thereby keep learning alive across the country, allowing every young person to keep working towards their own educational, employment, and entrepreneurial dreams.”

Teachers, parents and learners can access HealthCheck on TeacherConnect 24/7 by saving the number +27 60 060 3333 to their contacts and then messaging the word ‘hi’ to start a conversation or do a HealthCheck.




Definitions: The E³ Initiative and TeacherConnect:

E³ (Entrepreneurship, Employability and Education) is a national initiative of the Department of Basic Education in partnership with the Community and Individual Development Association and the Maharishi Invincibility Institute, that uses student-centred active learning (including projects and games) in the existing CAPS curriculum to assist teachers to better prepare learners for the modern economy. The goal of E³ is to inspire 100% of learners to complete school and 100% of these learners to study further, get a job, and/or start their own enterprises.

TeacherConnect is a platform developed within E³ in collaboration with Praekelt.org using Turn.io.  E³ also partners with Care For Education to provide training and educational resources to teachers in the foundation phase and with New Leaders Foundation to monitor and evaluate its work.