Vodacom, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, has launched the Eastern Cape chapter of the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme in Lady Frere this week.
The centre is part of Vodacom’s Mobile Education Programme and is expected to train 1 400 teachers from 172 schools annually in the Eastern Cape region. Teachers will be trained in the use of technology and will have access to curriculum content and teacher aids through cloud computing which is an internet based warehouse of educational content.
IMPROVING MATHS AND SCIENCE
“This initiative focuses on teacher development, one of the most critical elements in the education value chain,” said Vodacom chief officer for corporate affairs, Maya Makanjee. “It also offers a model whereby South Africa can advance in the area of education through the effective use of communications technology.”
In addition, 20 schools have been identified by the Eastern Cape Department of Basic Education to focus mainly on improving maths and science subjects in the area. At least 80 teachers will receive critical training annually in these subjects and each school will receive a laptop with free internet, a multimedia projector and an interactive board.
“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,” said Eastern Cape Education MEC Mandla Makupula. “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.”
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 Lady Frere Centre is one of nine established in each province.
“Information and communications technology offer the opportunity to level the playing field for teachers who previously had limited or no access to technology,” said Makanjee. “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.”
The Centre is connected to Vodacom’s head office in Midrand through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This 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 schools, buildings and teachers have been identified by the Eastern Cape Department of Education while all the technology elements are supplied by Vodacom. The programme is directly in line with the department’s aim of providing every school in the province with connectivity by the end of 2014, and teacher training in the use of technology is critical.
The Lady Frere Centre has been fully equipped with a computer room housing 50 computer terminals, educational aids, internet connectivity and training facilities. The community of Lady Frere will also have access to the Centre for free internet and online e-learning.
Vodacom has committed to supply 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 among the teachers.
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. These digital educational resources are hosted on the website: www.digitalclassroom.co.za