Nkosana Butholenkosi Masuku
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It is difficult to implement excursion learning and teaching in most Zimbabwean schools due to inadequate funds in the schools and the field trips being expensive, therefore learners lack exposure to practical applications of education in the real world. Learners are disadvantaged, especially rural learners who most of, do not know what an excursion is. The learners are therefore deprived of rich educational experiences and lack appreciation of education due to not experiencing how it is applied in the real world, affecting their performance, both rural and urban learners. In Zimbabwe, a science learner can for instance finish their advanced levels without ever visiting a chemical plant, scientific laboratory or an industry where learnt scientific knowledge is applied. A primary school learner can finish Grade 7 without visiting any of the educational tourist sites in his/her country i.e. Matopos, Great Zimbabwe or Victoria Falls. This often leads to a poor appreciation of education by the learners in both rural and urban schools.
Phenomenon technologies offers low cost virtual excursions (field-trips) to schools in Zimbabwe through the use of Virtual Reality which immerse the learners in the environment as if they were present themselves using our FundoVR innovation. Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial environment that is created with 360 cameras and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. Learners therefore get an opportunity to virtually explore an industry, chemical plants, educational sites or space without leaving the classroom. The FundoVR innovation seeks to achieve this by the creation of 360 content tailor made to suit curriculum needs and use of already existing 360 content in conjunction with virtual reality headsets to provide low cost excursions to the schools.The FundoVR service is provided directly to the schools at a very cost effective price from as little as $2.50 per learner whilst offering a similar learning experience to physical excursions which are expensive to conduct for schools. This is advantageous in that the excursions (field trips) are brought to the learners virtually in their classroom through FundoVR. Learners in the deepest rural schools can therefore also explore and experience endless possibilities of science applications, such as engineering, astrophysics and be able to virtually experience significant educational places as if they were there themselves, without leaving their classroom. Students familiarise themselves with real-life experiences, whilst enhancing their understanding of theoretical and practical concepts as viewed during these virtual trips.
Phenomenon technologies has registered over 200 primary schools for its flight service, whilst more primary schools are still registering, we are yet to register secondary schools as well, therefore the innovation now requires funding to adequately provide the service and scale throughout the 10 provinces in the country. An initial $15000USD would be required to setup a team in each province. This means that a total funding of $135000USD is needed to adequately cover the service in the whole country as we currently operate in one province. Additional funding could also mean scalability of the innovation to other countries as our model can be easily adapted for other countries.