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Vodacom launches Mobile Education

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A consortium of technology partners today launched the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme, which uses mobile technology to provide South African teachers with better access to quality instruction resources and ICT.
In a move that will pave the way to improving educationnin schools, technology partners today launched the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme, which makes use of mobilentechnology to provide teachers throughout South Africa with better access tonquality instruction resources and ICT.

The initiative is a nationwide teacherndevelopment programme that improves the quality of instruction in all subjects,nespecially mathematics and physical science, two of the most challengingnsubjects for learners in South Africa.

The VodacomnMobile Education Programme is rolled out in partnership with the Departmentnof Basic Education, Microsoft, Cisco and Mindset Learn.

The programme has two objectives: one is to usenmobile technology to help the Department of Basic Education meet its objective ofnensuring that a significant number of learners have exposure to ICTs. Thensecond is to upgrade the quality of instruction by ensuring that teachersnthroughout the country, both rural and urban, have access to the highestnquality teaching resources.

Vodacom and the Department of Basic Educationnhave, as part of this launch, created nine ICT Resource Centres, one in everynprovince, each serving up to 200nschools.  The centres serve as the district teacher-training hubnand are outfitted with computer classrooms with 50 terminals and an InternetnCafé.

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekgansays:  “This initiative is the first ofnits kind in the ICT environment.  It hasnthe support of my Department and the nine provincial education Departments andnI am sure it will go a long way in addressing the ICT challenges we have inneducation.”

The ICT Resource Centres are connected throughnVirtual Private Network (VPN) to Vodacom’s head office in Midrand.  This connection serves as a pipeline ofninformation, connecting the centres, participating schools and teachers to thenInternet and to valuable teacher training resources.

Training will focus on ICT literacy, as well asnthe effective use and integration of digital content in the classroom. Tonsupport this training, educators are provided with the necessary ICTninfrastructure and tools.

“This launch is perhaps one of the mostnimportant initiatives that we have introduced. nIt involves a significant investment in our youth, who are the future ofnour country, and is a critical component of our commitment to using mobiles forngood.  Through this initiative, teachers willnnow be able to use cloud computing to access vital content, teacher-aids andnresources to help deliver quality education,” says Pieter Uys, Vodacom’s CEO.

Microsoft will be supplying its Partners innLearning teacher professional development curriculum software and Microsoft certificationnfor teachers and the public.  Cisco isnproviding Computer Technician certification and Entrepreneurship trainingnthrough its Cisco Networking Academy programme and Mindset Learn has made thenSouth African educational curriculum content available throughout thenprogramme.

Vodacom has, over the past decade, invested morenthan R660 million in education, health and security.

Vodacomnalso supports public schools through its Vodacom Millionaires programme, whichngives four public schools a fully-equipped computer centre every month. Innaddition to this, 2 400 principals in Gauteng have been connected wirelessly tonthe Department of Education, and each other, with a reporting managementnapplication that is run on BlackBerry.

Vodacomnalso developed a device called the WebBox through its holding company,nVodafone. The device has been designed for emerging markets, where technologynand cost barriers often exclude many from accessing affordable Internet access.  The WebBox is essentially a keyboard withnbuilt-in modem and memory card that simply plugs into a television, turning itninto a computer screen with Internet access.

In addition to the WebBox, Vodacom has alsonintroduced an Internet connectivity device called the Vodafone Webbook,ndesigned to provide affordable Internet access that can also be used in theneducation sector.

“We are absolutely committed to helpingnGovernment improve on the quality of education in our schools. The VodacomnMobile Education Programme is our most ambitious project, but it is also thenmost important. It notnonly levels the playing field for rural schools that often don’t have access tonthe same quality of teaching material that urban schools have, but it alsonensures that schools, teachers, learners and communities have access to ICT andnthe Internet, and this is important to us because it mirrors our commitment tonensuring that Vodacom puts the power of the internet into everyone’s hands,”nconcludes Uys.

* FollownGadget on Twitter on @gadgetza

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