CAPE TOWN – Today, Vodacom Group’s executive leadership appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education to provide an update on the collaborative work delivered by Vodacom and the Department of Basic Education (DBE).
Vodacom’s submission showed that its Vodacom Foundation’s Mobile Education Programme, which uses mobile technology to enhance the education system in order to help learners in the rural and township schools of South Africa to break the cycle of poverty and get ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is already yielding positive results.
Vodacom informed the Committee that it has equipped and provided internet connectivity to over 3000 schools across the country. For example, Vodacom has connected 588 schools in Eastern Cape, 444 in KwaZulu Natal, 360 in Free State, 340 in Limpopo, 326 in Mpumalanga, 306 in Northern Cape, 302 in North West, 246 in Western Cape) and 88 in Gauteng. These schools have been provided the following ICT equipment: interactive whiteboard, data projector, printer and laptop or tablet trolley solution.
In order to align with the Government’s Action Plan for 2019, targeted towards the realisation of Schooling 2030, Vodacom, through the Vodacom Foundation has identified 12 schools from the 3000 schools that will oparate as Schools of Excellence. The first phase of the Schools of Excellence was launched in 2017. Schooling 2030fosters a comprehensive approach to education focusing on learners, teachers, school principals, parents, learning and teaching material, and school building and facilities.
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer: Corporate Affairs at Vodacom Group, commented: “The Vodacom Foundation development approach is based on cradle to the adulthood. In this regard, our vision on learning and development is one of a comprehensive approach to education that is informed by the eradication of the access barriers to communication, developing digitally literate teachers, fostering societal respect for learners and, most importantly, reducing the scourge of stunting. All this can only be achieved through collaboration with partners in the education ecosystem led by the DBE.”
The Vodacom Education programme is guided by two overarching developmental policy instruments; the National Development Plan: Vision 2030 (NDP), which identifies Infrastructure and ICT as an area that needs attention when it comes to quality education, and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda, Goal 4: Education which is aimed to ensure inclusive and equitable quality of education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Teachers in classrooms remain the centre of learning and teaching with the core being a competent and confident teacher. As part of this latest engagement in parliament, , Vodacom showcased the 92 teacher centres it has established across the country with its long standing partner the DBE. These teacher centres have been equipped with interactive boards, laptops, desktops, servers, data projectors, routers and printers. The centres provide spaces designed to train teachers on how to integrate ICT in the classroom.
Vodacom hosted a 40-strong contingent, including committee members for a site tour to visit to one of the company’s ICT centres in Metro East Education District, Kuilsriver. A total of three teacher centres, valued at close to R3 million have been established in the Western Cape Province. The goal with teacher centres is to contribute to the transformation of teaching and learning through the use of technology.
“It is clear that if we are to break the cycle of poverty and advance the economic empowerment of our people, we need a radical transformation in education. In our view, our existing technology can be an enabler to the provision of quality. We plan to accelerate our interventions in education in the coming years with more social partners in order to enable young people to enjoy the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” concludes Netshitenzhe.