Vodacom Group, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (DBE), has installed its Virtual Classroom Solution at various schools in rural areas across three provinces in the country.

A handover ceremony held at the Vodacom Group headquarters in Midrand marked the official transfer of the hardware installed at the schools to deliver Wi-Fi over a secure cloud-based SD-WAN network.

To enable connectivity remotely for the educators and learners, Vodacom has provided a monthly 10G data bundle plus SIM for the learners and a 20G monthly data bundle with a SIM and MiFi router for the educators.

Vodacom also delivered broadcasting and streaming hardware, as well as devices for learners and educators alike. While educator training will be provided by Vodacom, the DBE will oversee progress at the schools and further entrench digital learning opportunities for them.

The Virtual Classroom Solution forms part of Vodacom’s larger Connected Education platform, which was created to transform the education sector by leveraging the power of technology to bridge the digital divide in schools.

Launched in 2020 in partnership with Microsoft South Africa, the platform is a single educational space where learners can connect with their teachers and access productivity apps like Teams, OneNote, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

A total of 101 laptops were supplied to educators, with 1 360 laptops donated to Grade 12 learners across the schools. Vodacom also provisioned an additional 437 laptops so that the schools can install these in centrally accessible libraries, giving Grade 10 and 11 learners a chance to familiarise themselves with the digital devices and applications, ahead of being issued with their own device when they reach Grade 12. Each laptop came with its own bag, and secure safes were installed on the schools’ premises for device storage.

“ICT continues to be a key driver in the advancement of education, Covid-19 has certainly allowed us to accelerate our progress towards greater access and connectivity for all schools across the country. With this launch we truly believe that the sector will continue to make great strides in ensuring that all children across the country benefit from the opportunities that come with connectivity,” says Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

“Vodacom firmly believes in partnering with government to not only drive digital inclusion in the country but to also democratise access to connectivity and bridge the gap between legacy education systems and technology. Online education is an important societal equaliser as learners will have access to technological equipment and online educational content regardless of their socio-economic status or geographic location,” says Vodacom Business chief officer, William Mzimba.