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KZN teachers empowered with tech

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Vodacom, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, has launched the KwaZulu-Natal chapter of the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme in Pinetown.

This programme is set to transform teaching in the classroom through the use of technology.

The programme includes the establishment of an information and communications technology (ICT) resource centre that is expected to train about 1 400 teachers from 200 schools annually in the use of ICT to support teaching and learning. In addition, 20 schools have been identified by the department to focus specifically on improving maths and science. It is one of nine centres being established in each of the provinces as part of the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme.

“Through the programme teachers will be trained in the use of ICTs and will have access to curriculum content and teacher aids through the cloud which is an internet based warehouse of educational content,” says Portia Maurice, head of innovation and partnering at Vodacom.

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 the highest quality teaching resources.

Information and communications technology offer the opportunity to level the playing field for teachers who previously had limited or no access to technology. 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 learning areas at tertiary level.

“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 and in the future gaps can be identified and solutions provided through an internet connection,” says Maurice.

The schools, buildings and teachers have been identified by the KZN Department of Education while all the technology elements are supplied by Vodacom and its partners.

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.

“As the Department of Education in KZN, we feel honoured and are extremely excited about this initiative. We believe that such partnerships are crucial if we are to offer quality education to our learners and to schools, particularly those that have previously not been exposed to such learning opportunities. What is even more exciting for us is that, teachers will be empowered and capacitated so that they are able to cope in our technologically advancing country. Through this centre, communication with teachers in other areas and regions will be made that much easier,” says MEC for Education in KZN, Senzo Mchunu.

The Pinetown centre has been fully equipped with a computer room housing 50 computer terminals, educational aids, internet connectivity and training facilities.

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.