Vodacom’s mobile education programme spreads to Eastern Cape

Over 1,400 teachers from 172 schools in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province are expected to benefit from the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme, which is aimed at transforming classroom teaching using technology.

The initiative was launched in Lady Frere today by Vodacom South Africa alongside the Basic Education Department, meaning it is now available in all nine provinces of South Africa.

The programme will use cloud-computing technology to warehouse educational content essential for training teachers in the use of technology as well as providing educators with access to curriculum content and teacher aids.

Maya Makanjee, chief officer for corporate affairs at Vodacom, said: “This initiative focuses on teacher development, one of the most critical elements in the education value chain. It also offers a model whereby South Africa can advance in the area of education through the effective use of communications technology.”

The new centre has been equipped with a computer room housing 50 computers, educational aids, Internet connectivity and training facilities. The community of Lady Frere will have access to the Centre for free Internet and for online e-learning.

The Eastern Cape Department of Basic Education has earmarked 20 more schools where it will focus mainly on improving maths and science subjects in the area.

At least 80 teachers will receive critical training annually in these subjects. Each school will also receive a laptop with free Internet, a multimedia projector and an interactive board.

“Information and communications technology offer the opportunity to level the playing field for teachers who previously had limited or no access to technology,” Makanjee said.

“Interventions such as these are not only expected to improve learner pass rates for mathematics and science in the province, but are also expected to ensure that learners pursue these subjects at tertiary level.”

Connectivity to the centre is handled through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection to Vodacom’s head office in Midrand. The Wide Area Network (WAN) connection serves as a pipeline for information that connects and delivers content to participating schools and teachers and provides a platform for creating a community of teachers who could communicate as well as share ideas and resources.

“The opening of this Resource Centre in one of our rural districts affirms our commitment to ensure that ICT is mainstreamed and made accessible to all our schools. It is public private partnerships like these that will ensure that, in time, all our schools, rural and urban, meet the required minimum norms and standards,” said Mandla Makupula, MEC for Education in the Eastern Cape.

Other technology companies have also joined forces in this initiative to assist with e-learning services. Microsoft, Cisco and Mindset, have partnered with Vodacom to provide the centres with software, programme content, certification and training, and educational curriculum content.

Launched in October last year, the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme was developed to help the Department of Basic Education meet its goal of exposing learners to ICT and to give teachers access to quality teaching resources.

The digital educational resources are hosted at Digitalclassroom.co.za.

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