The Vodacom Mobile Education Programme’s newest information and communication technology (ICT) resource centre officially opened its doors, with the aim of boosting teacher training in mathematics and science in Vhembe, Limpopo.
The Vhembe ICT Resource Centre makes educational material available through cloud computing, which is expected to help train about 1 400 teachers annually in the use of ICT to support teaching and learning focusing in maths and science subjects.
Officially opened on 5 March by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, the centre is the realisation of a partnership formed between Vodacom and the Limpopo Department of Education in order to help boost teacher training in the province.
“The key objective for the programme is to use mobile technology to help the Department of Basic Education meet its goal of ensuring that a significant number of learners have exposure to ICTs,” said Maya Makanjee, Vodacom’s chief officer for corporate affairs. “The programme ensures that teachers throughout the country have access to the highest quality teaching resources. The programme will also ensure that teachers receive quality education content and create an opportunity for interaction between teachers and lecturers.”
The Vhembe centre has been fully equipped with a computer room housing 50 computer terminals, educational aids, internet connectivity and training facilities.
Vodacom has committed to supplying content hosting and free internet connectivity for the next three years. Connectivity includes the establishment of a controlled gateway to the Internet for each province. This will allow for easy communication between teachers.
The centre is one of the nine centres being established in each of the provinces as part of the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme.
Launched in October last year, the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme was developed to help the Department of Basic Education in meeting its goal of exposing a significant number of learners to ICT and upgrading the quality of instruction by providing teachers throughout South Africa access to high-quality teaching resources.
The technology will help level the field for teachers who previously had little or no access to such material. Interventions such as these are not only expected to improve learner pass rate numbers for mathematics and science in the province, but also encourage pupils to study these subjects at university.
“The operation of the centre with the selected schools can serve as a case study on how to use information and communications technology in the classroom. Once these benefits are demonstrated, such centres could ‘create demand’ for teaching aids that can easily be provided through an internet connection,” said Makanjee.
The schools, buildings and teachers have been identified by the Limpopo Department of Education and all technology elements have been supplied by Vodacom and its partners.
The centre is connected to Vodacom’s head office in Midrand through a Virtual Private Network, http://digitalclassroom.co.za/digitalclassroom/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44&Itemid=239 which serves as a pipeline for information that connects and delivers content to participating schools and teachers. It also provides a platform for creating a community of teachers who could communicate, share ideas and resources.
Leading e-learning service providers Microsoft, Cisco and Mindset have partnered with Vodacom to provide the centres with software, programme content, certification and training, and educational curriculum content.