JOHANNESBURG – GOVERNMENT’S allocation of more than R200 billion (US$15,6 billion) to expand access to basic education to millions of children in South Africa will be futile without the digitisation of local education, an expert warned.
David Mphelo, General Manager: Enterprise at MTN, said while government had made significant strides in expanding access to basic education, concerted efforts were required to improve the quality of learning and teaching in schools.
This is particularly so for schools in townships and rural areas that lack the resources compared to private and Model C schools.
Mphelo thus called for the public and private sectors to work together to find innovative and alternative ways of leveraging the power of connectivity to enrich learning and teaching and improve outcomes.
“The quality of the education system in South Africa cannot be explained away by lack of resources,” Mphelo said.
He pointed out the National Treasury allocated R204 billion for basic education in the 2016/17 financial year and pledged to increase funding by R50 million in the next three years to R254 billion.
Mphelo said MTN had witnessed first-hand how access to connectivity could positively transform the learning experience at the impoverished schools where the mobile operator had handed over multi-media centres.
Since technology was deployed in partnership with the Department of Education in each province, there has been a 5 percent increase in total learner performance.
Furthermore, this has seen increased integration of technology by teachers for teaching and learning purposes.
“This has resulted in a noticeable improvement in the overall pass rate, and an increased number of graduates selecting ICT related courses at university level,” Mphelo said.
In 2017, 30 schools, two universities, two schools catering for learners with special needs, a nursing college and an emergency medical service college were recipients of fully-equipped multi-media centres from the MTN SA Foundation.
The facilities consist of either a 20, 40 or 60-seater computer laboratory, printers, data projectors and interactive whiteboards, free connectivity and laptops that are pre-loaded with approved curriculum that has been digitised for ease of use and access for both teachers and learners.
Mphelo said working with government and partners, they had demonstrated what could be achieved as a collective to address the socio-economic challenges facing South Africa.
“The milestones we have achieved embolden us to work harder to make a significant dent in unemployment, inequality and poverty.”
– CAJ News