Johannesburg – For the more than 700,000 learners who sat the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams at the end of 2021, enrolling in high school required determination, perseverance and resilience.
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted schooling for the past two years. For example, research by Umalusi, the council for quality assurance in education, shows that 50% of learning was lost in students’ grade 11.
These difficult circumstances have been compounded by the continued uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus, as well as the national unrest and blackouts that have taken place in 2021.
Digital technology had an important role to play in supporting Grade 12 learners through these challenges. Learners with access to a device and connectivity could access CAPS-aligned educational content and continue their studies remotely to obtain their matric certificate.
To address this critical need, Vodacom has zero-rated its e-School digital education platform, which was developed in partnership with the Department for Basic Education (DBE) in 2014.
The portal saw a significant increase in registrations at the start of the national lockdown in April 2020 and now has over a million users accessing free online educational content aligned with the national curriculum for students from R to 12th year.
“As we congratulate learners who have passed the NSC exams, we must recognize the importance of digital technology in our education system. Many of the achievements we hear about today have been made possible by access to quality education through connectivity. As we continue to navigate our way through the pandemic, with many learners returning to school, online educational resources should be part of daily educational support, in and out of the classroom,” says Takalani Netshitenzhe, Director of external affairs of Vodacom South Africa.
As the pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation in the classroom, it has highlighted the existing digital divide in schools, especially in rural areas, where there is often a lack of infrastructure, resources and skills to make e-learning a success. This risks putting thousands of South African learners at risk of being left behind.
“Addressing these educational challenges requires a collective commitment – between government, the private sector, non-profit organizations and citizens. That’s why Vodacom has partnered with the DBE to launch a multi-faceted education ecosystem model to dramatically improve access to quality education at all levels, from early childhood development to grade 12. .
Technology is key to these initiatives, leveling the playing field by enabling access to education for all and equipping the next generation for the digital economy,” adds Netshitenzhe.
As part of Vodacom’s commitment to increasing access to quality education in South Africa, techco has joined the DBE in honoring the top 33 performers in the 2021 NSC exams.
Vodacom supports these students in the next stage of their studies by providing tablets and mobile phones, as well as scholarships for higher education.
“While these graduates have an exciting future ahead of them, we need to draw attention to the important role of education for the future of our country. Without education, we cannot equip people with the knowledge and skills to make a meaningful contribution to society.
“By working with government to strengthen our basic education system and harnessing the power of technology, we can help overcome poverty, unemployment and inequality and go further together for a better South Africa,” concludes Netshitenzhe.
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