KZN pupils switch on the e-school

e-school---textThe Vodacom e-school was launched at the COSAT Centre of Science and Technology in ILitha Park, Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Joined by principal Phadiela Cooper and Vodacom executive head sustainability and corporate citizenship Suraya Hamdulay, learners show off the Kicka phones they will use to access the e-school. (Image: Vodacom)

Schoolchildren at a high school in KwaZulu-Natal have been formally introduced to Vodacom’s e-school, which offers a variety of solutions to students’ educational needs and so enhances their learning capabilities.

The portal was launched in January at the Centre for Science and Technology (Cosat) in Khayelitsha, Cape Town and is, in part, a response to a request from schoolchildren for free educational content.

It has now also been introduced to students at Riet Valley Combined School in Inchanga, between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Students who use Vodacom as their mobile service provider can access the portal at the touch of a button.

The Vodacom e-school is a learning platform offering internet access to educational content for grades 10 to 12. The content is based on the South African Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (Caps), and is taken directly from the school syllabus. Subjects currently available include maths and maths literacy, physical science, life science, accounting, and English first additional language. More grades and subjects are on the horizon.

INVESTING IN STUDENTS

Through the e-school, Vodacom subscribers can access curriculum-aligned classroom content on their mobile devices for free. The mobile company has zero rated browsing on the site for its customers. People on rival networks also have access for free, but do incur data charges for logging on to the site.

Suraya Hamdulay, Vodacom’s executive head for corporate citizenship, said: “We know that many learners in our country often do not have access to learning material such as textbooks, which makes excelling at school more difficult. Through the Vodacom e-school platform, we can help address this challenge.

“As an investor in the country and partner of the Department of Basic Education, our goal is to ensure that learners throughout the country have access to some basic tools to help enhance their learning outside the classroom.”

Accessing the material is simple. All a student needs to do is log in to the Vodacom.co.za/e-school from their cellphone, tablet or laptop to register. Thereafter, they have unlimited access to education content.

“Most learners have access to cellphones, laptops or tablets in one way or another, but may not have adequate data. Having free access to our education content portal will now help remove the barriers to e-learning,” Hamdulay said.

“Learners can now complete lessons from their school syllabus, to help them improve their marks. They can also track their progress and see how they are performing compared to other students in a fun, easy and interactive way.”

Each pupil creates his or her own personal dashboard, where they can record their work. There is daily homework, with lesson notes and quizzes. They can keep track of their progress, and earn badges when they reach the next level.

The development of the e-school portal has cost about R5-million and Vodacom has committed to investing more money to grow its footprint. “The R5-million is for the establishment of the portal and as we go into the next financial year, we will be investing more into [it].”

TEACHER TRAINING

The company has a number of teacher training facilities around South Africa that operate in conjunction with the Department of Basic Education. At these nodes, it has trained 1 000 teachers in the use of ICT in teaching. “We help to train teachers on the integration of ICT in the classroom. We’re moving away from having a blackboard in the classroom and the teacher just standing and instructing,” explained Hamdulay.

Content available on e-school is being expanded and efforts are being made to build rich media content to make education attractive to children.