The Fibre Network Operator (FNO), Evotel, has connected and activated 50 schools across the country as part of its Schools Programme – providing these 50 schools with free fibre to connect them to the internet through the fastest connection available at present.
The Evotel Schools programme, in essence, aims to establish ‘smart schools’ with a focus on providing learners with the ability to thrive and be successful in a connected world.
“We set a target to connect 50 schools that fall under our network coverage area in the first year of the programme and we are more than ecstatic to have reached this target. The schools don’t have to pay a cent for the fast open-access fibre infrastructure. It is simply one of our ways to give back to the community,” says Bradley Bekker, Evotel’s Head of Brand.
As the world today is basically reliant on the internet the company realised that schools in South Africa have been largely overlooked, unable to benefit from a fast and reliable fibre connection to the worldwide web and the opportunities it offers. The FNO felt that it had to do something to change this and decided to invest in the education of South Africa’s youth with its Schools Programme.
Andante Primary School in Ladysmith, KZN was one of the 50 schools Evotel provided free fibre to and its principal, Mrs Lorraine Schirge, is excited about this development.
She says: “Fibre internet is essential to keeping up with the fast changing technology of our world. It is wonderful to be able to turn on your computers, cell phones and have trouble-free internet access. It is a must for this world of technology today and it makes research and learning so much more available to us all.
Thank you Evotel for your help. One expense less and we are able to keep up in this changing world and assist the leaders of tomorrow to be a step ahead.”
The Proverbial Extra Mile
Evotel’s dedication to education and providing ‘Fibre for Everyone’, as its slogan states, has proverbially gone the extra mile and went out of its way to connect a school in need, which no other FNO in the area was willing to assist.
“We decided to assist HTS Witbank who reached out to us, as no other FNO in the area was willing to provide the school with a free fibre connection. We literally went out of our way and our network coverage area to connect them to our fibre network. We laid approximately 600m aerial fibre to the school, without any cost to the school. Evotel covered the network extension cost of close to R26 000 ourselves,” Notes Bekker.
“Thank you, for investing in education, which in turn invests in the youth, being the future of our country. Thank you for making a difference, a difference that might lead to the next Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, taking their first steps into history, right here at HTS Witbank. In a word, we are grateful for the effort and dedication that made this connection happen. It did not pass unnoticed, and we cannot thank them enough,” says HTS Witbank Deputy Principal, Ms M. Wolmarans.
According to various teachers from the school the fibre connection makes learning and teaching easier and more convenient, seeing as the internet is solely utilised for school work, CAT learners and teachers have incredibly fast internet access during classes.
“It allows for a richer educational experience, seeing as there is lightning quick access to information sources and colleagues should it be necessary, and lesson-plans can now include videos, animations and graphics, previously unheard of,” adds Wolmarans.
According to Wolmarans, learners are very positive and excited to utilise all of the new avenues open to them, visual education is sometimes easier to understand than textbooks and old-school methods. She notes that opportunities for struggling students are legion, and they have a better chance of making a successful transition from school to life.
The company evaluates and assess each such extension to connect schools that fall outside of its network coverage area and is currently assessing connecting two schools in Kathu.
Evotel has set a new target of connecting an additional 50 schools in the coming months to reach a total of 100 schools this year.
“We are determined to reach our target of 100 schools by the end of 2022, but apart from that, the feelings expressed by teachers, like that of Mrs Lorraine Schirge and Ms M Wolmarans and learners alike, is worth it. Seeing how the schools are utilising our fibre to provide learners with a better educational experience, are what makes us proud to be part of contributing to the development of our youth,” concludes Bekker.