Vodacom’s new Mobile Education Programme, the very first countrywide teacher-development project in South Africa, is going to make use of mobile technology to enhance the quality of teaching in schools.
The main objective of the programme is to make improvements to instruction in all of the subjects, with an focus on maths, maths literacy and physical science from grades 10 to 12 – that happens to be regarded as by far the most demanding subject areas for students in South Africa.
Jointly the venture partners will make sure that schools, teachers, pupils and communities have accessibility to ICT and the internet.
At the launch in Midrand, Gauteng, Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys pointed out that the undertaking is among the most ambitious and critical projects yet to be spearheaded by the mobile telecommunications company.
It requires a substantial investment in our youth, who happen to be the way forward for our country, and is a crucial component of our commitment to using mobiles for good, he was quoted saying.
Improving education in SA
The venture intends to provide solutions to several of the major weak points in South Africa’s education system.
The mobile education scheme has four components: the mobile education ICT resource centres, the web-based digital classroom education portal, the mobile education virtual private network and the mobile education training programme.
Via the initiative, the project partners anticipate to upgrade the quality of instruction by making sure that teachers all over the country, both in rural and urban areas, have access to the best quality teaching resources.
Uys talked about how the project will assist to level the playing field for rural schools that frequently do not have access to the same quality of teaching material that urban schools have. “All of us are unquestionably committed to assisting government make improvements to the standard of education in our schools,” he explained.
Another goal is to utilize mobile technology to assist the Department of Basic Education meet its objective of ensuring that a considerable number of pupils have exposure to ICT.
Mobile education centres
Vodacom along with the Department of Basic Education have put in place nine ICT resource centres, one in every province, each servicing as many as 200 schools.
The nine centres can be found in the following areas: Tshwane in Gauteng, Emalahleni in Mpumalanga, Worster in the Western Cape, Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal, Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape, Upington in the Northern Cape, Makhado in Limpopo, Ganyesa in North West province and Mangaung in the Free State.
Uys mentioned that six of the nine centres are already operational.
A lot of these centres will be the hub of each district’s teacher-training programme where professional teacher-development training courses will take place. Training will give attention to ICT literacy along with the integration of digital content within the classroom.
Each centre incorporates a computer classroom, equipped with 50 terminals, together with an internet café.
“Technology and ICT can play such a significant role in the country and the economy, and it all begins with young children and providing them with access to information,” Uys stated at the launch.
Vodacom digital classroom
To help support the teacher training made available at the nine centres throughout the country, all teachers are going to have access to the digital classroom website. Here they are able to download web-based resources and teaching material presented in an accessible and appealing way.
The website will in addition provide information on each of the nine centres, discussion forums where teachers and trainers can assist each other resolve education-related issues, education news and links to local and international educational resources.
On top of that, teachers will be able to gain access to material on the site made available from the various technology partners of the project.
Microsoft is going to be supplying the software and Microsoft certification for teachers. 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.
How does it work?
Uys mentioned that the very first time, cloud computing is going to be utilized to make it possible for teachers to gain access to essential content, teacher-aids and resources to help deliver quality education.
Cloud computing relies on a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage and process data, instead of a local server.
All the ICT Resource Centres are connected by way of a virtual private network to Vodacom’s head office in Midrand. This connection works as a pipeline of information, connecting the centres, participating schools and teachers to the internet and to teacher training resources.
Prioritizing teacher development
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga has stated that her department has given its complete support to programme.
At the launch Mohamed Surty, deputy minister of Basic Education, mentioned that teacher development is a key element to enhancing education in South Africa.
When visiting schools throughout the country, he learned that the most crucial challenge was the teaching methods, definitely not the ability of pupils.
The department has identified that the country has 10 000 under-qualified and 20 000 unqualified teachers in need of further education and training.
“It has the support of my department along with the nine provincial education departments and I am certain it will significantly help in addressing the ICT challenges we have in education,” Motshekga said.
Vodacom Mobile Education Programme – click here to view