by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – TELKOM aims to train, between now and 2026, some 10 000 teachers and 1 500 unemployed youth to enable them train their peers on how to use digital tools for remote learning.
The South African telecommunications provider’s initiative follows the realization challenges persisted amid the country’s rapid shift to online learning on the back of the pandemic.
This culminated in schools having to introduce digital tools to learners that might have not been previously exposed to such inventions.
In addition, one of the biggest challenges that South Africa faces in terms of introducing digital resources is the lack of connectivity infrastructure.
“Connectivity is the most essential tool that enables e-learning for teachers and learners in the urban and rural areas of SA,” said Desiree Letshabo, Executive: Business – Mobile Sales at Telkom.
The executive added the lack of access to the internet had been a great hindrance for many learners.
Without connectivity, learners cannot access learning material, use their devices to participate in virtual classrooms or collaborate with other learners while learning remotely.
To enable connectivity for learners in vulnerable communities, the public sector has collaborated with telecommunications companies including Telkom to bring connectivity services at no cost to the learners.
Telkom recently teamed up with the Mpumalanga Department of Education as a connectivity partner providing data connectivity solutions to 6 700 teachers and 55 000 Grade 12 learners in the province.
This partnership is part of the education department’s e-learning programme poised to digitally equip Grade 12 learners and teachers by making it easier for them to access online learning material.
Telkom has since worked with the department to provide zero-rated services for learners and teachers to work remotely.
Through zero-rating, learners who are Telkom Mobile users can access government e-learning websites as well as platforms such as Wikipedia, Everything Science, Everything Maths and DBE Cloud for free.
“Every child has the right to access education and the pandemic has made it difficult for learners and teachers to interact and collaborate within the physical classroom,” Letshabo said.
She said the rapid transition to virtual learning exposed the massive digital divide that exists within the public education system.
“That is why it is crucial for businesses to partner with the public sector to bridge this divide and help learners to access e-learning platforms no matter where they are in South Africa.”
– CAJ News