24 October 2011
Several local and international ICT companies have teamed up with the Department of Basic Education to launch the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme, which enables teachers across South Africa to use mobile technology to access resources to improve their teaching.
The programme, which is being rolled out by Vodacom in partnership with companies such as Microsoft, Cisco and Mindset Learn, focuses especially on mathematics and physical science, two of the most challenging subjects for learners in South Africa.
The programme has two objectives: one is to use mobile technology to help the Department of Basic Education meet its objective of ensuring that a significant number of learners have exposure to information and communications technology.
The second is to improve the quality of instruction by ensuring that teachers throughout the country, both rural and urban, have access to the highest quality teaching resources.
“We are absolutely committed to helping Government improve on the quality of education in our schools,” Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys said at the launch of the programme last week. “The Vodacom Mobile Education Programme is our most ambitious project, but it is also the most important.
“It not only levels the playing field for rural schools that often don’t have access to the same quality of teaching material that urban schools have, but it also ensures that schools, teachers, learners and communities have access to ICT and the internet.”
Provincial ICT resource centres
As part of the launch, the partners have created an ICT Resource Centre in each province, each serving up to 200 schools. The centres serve as the district teacher-training hub and are outfitted with computer classrooms with 50 terminals and an internet cafe.
The ICT Resource Centres themselves are connected through a virtual private network (VPN) to Vodacom’s head office in Midrand, Johannesburg. This connection serves as a pipeline of information, connecting the centres, participating schools and teachers to the Internet and to valuable teacher training resources.
“This initiative is the first of its kind in the ICT environment,” said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. “It has the support of my department and the nine provincial education departments and I am sure it will go a long way in addressing the ICT challenges we have in education.”
ICT literacy training
Training will focus on ICT literacy, as well as the effective use and integration of digital content in the classroom. To support this training, educators are provided with the necessary ICT infrastructure and tools.
Microsoft will be supplying its Partners in Learning teacher professional development curriculum software and Microsoft certification for teachers and the public.
Cisco is providing computer technician certification and entrepreneurship training through its Cisco Networking Academy programme, and Mindset Learn has made the South African educational curriculum content available throughout the programme.
“This launch is perhaps one of the most important initiatives that we have introduced,” said Uys. “It involves a significant investment in our youth, who are the future of our country, and is a critical component of our commitment to using mobiles for good.
“Through this initiative, teachers will now be able to use cloud computing to access vital content, teacher-aids and resources to help deliver quality education.”
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