by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – A LARGE number of South African school-goers face significant digital and literacy gaps.
This is highlighted by merely 49 percent of local schools having some form of connectivity, of which only 20 percent use it for teaching and learning, while the remaining is for administration.
Research has also shown that 78 percent of South African Grade 4 children cannot read for meaning in any language.
It is against this disparities backdrop that Huawei supports NGO Click Learning’s efforts, through its DigiSchool programme.
Supporting DigiSchool also underscores Huawei’s commitment to connecting more unconnected people and organisations to foster positive social change.
“Many people around the world remain unconnected,” said Dr Liang Hua, Chairman of the Board, Huawei.
He was speaking at the Sustainable Corporate Development Forum this week.
“So connecting them is the first step. This will give them greater access to knowledge, digital skills training, and opportunities,” Liang said.
The executive added that in this new era, where everything will be connected, connectivity will be more than just a tool for convenient communications.
“Together with digital technologies like cloud and AI (artificial intelligence), connectivity will help bring everyone into the digital world and drive social progress,” he said.
Launched in July 2020, the programme has connected almost 100 urban and rural primary schools across South Africa. It has impacted more than 50 000 learners.
The programme has benefited learners at those schools on four fronts: connectivity, devices, content, and skills.
Thami Sibanda, Principal of Tlama Tlama Primary School, one of the “DigiSchools”, said this programme has had a significant impact.
“This initiative has brought great opportunities to our learners who would not be normally exposed to them,” she said.
Sibanda said learners’ reading had improved since the inception of the programme. Those who completed the programme were given an opportunity to read to other learners at the school assembly with the aim of encouraging others to have an interest in reading.
Khutso Kgatla, a student at Iphuteng Primary School, said, “The computers helped us understand a lot of things. Now, I am good at class and I get a lot of awards thanks to the computers.”
Parents welcomed the programme.
“Ever since the programme was introduced to our school, the children have more knowledge on what they’re reading about. They understand more now,” said Andile Libazi, a parent at Thembile Primary School in Gauteng.
The DigiSchool programme provides schools with equipment to connect to the internet via Rain’ s 5G or 4G networks, and exposing learners to digital tools and materials that have a proven track record of improving reading, comprehension and digital skills.
Its slogan is, “Connect to Read, Read to Connect.”
Huawei believes DigiSchool forms a critical part of its corporate role in the countries in which it operates.
It is under the concept of TECH4ALL, which has benefited more than 110 000 people by the end of 2021.
Together with digital technologies like Cloud and AI, connectivity will help bring everyone into the digital world and drive social progress, Liang said.
“It is essential for those benefits to reach all, because we believe that connectivity is not just the cornerstone of the digital economy, but a basic right for every human being,” said he concluded.
– CAJ News