Vodacom and the Gauteng Department of Education have renewed their commitment to a seven-year partnership which will see a revamped and feature rich mobile application (app) for Gauteng schools rolled out across the province this month to better assist school principals in improving school management in Gauteng.
Over the course of Vodacom’s seven-year history of its partnership programme with the Gauteng Department of Education, over 2 000 principals have used the app, which has enabled them to better leverage technology for effective school management. The ongoing engagement between GDE and Vodacom has ensured that the app, originally deployed in Gauteng schools in 2009, has remained relevant and up to date. Vodacom and GDE’s collaborative efforts have seen the development of a new and improved application that takes into account the demands of managing schools in 2017.
At a ceremony held at the Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre in Boksburg, Vodacom Business Chief Officer Vuyani Jarana handed over 2 200 GDE App enabled Samsung cellphones and tablets to Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. These devices will be delivered to 2 200 schools across the province, where they will be used as a platform that will assist school principals and administrators to collaborate and better manage their schools. School principals will receive training on the devices and how to use the updated reporting app.
Since the first deployment of the Vodacom school management application in Gauteng schools in 2009, challenges relating to the management of schools were largely mitigated, thanks to the GDE’s vision. The original app developed by Vodacom for the GDE provided the department with a reporting tool to deliver fast, accurate and reliable reporting across its entire estate, consisting of 15 district offices, 2 200 public schools and two million students. As a result, the department has been able to significantly improve its management of each individual school as well as the broader estate.
Through its ongoing collaboration with GDE, Vodacom has continued to improve the application to act as a scalable platform to support schools in the province. Additional rich features include tracking learner and teacher attendance, school feeding received (based on the Department of Basic Education’s monitoring of the National School Nutrition Program), incident reporting where departmental assistance is needed, school and principle profiles, a messaging system for the department to communicate with each school, email notifications to encourage use of the app and finally a web reporting interface which is available for GDE management so that they can view school data.
Gauteng MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi says “Our improved mobile application will allow the Gauteng Department of Education to better manage its entire education estate. Through receiving accurate and regular data from schools using the devices, we can allocate our resources more effectively as well as respond quickly to any potential issues. Going forward, we believe that technology such as this will play an increasingly important role in helping Government to address various educational challenges in South Africa.”
With a large youth population, and deep-seated health and employment challenges, education is a vital element of South Africa’s long term success. To make the most of the national budget investment committed to education by the South African Government, and to ensure the appropriate resources are being directed towards areas of greatest need, the government needs accurate reporting in order to monitor everything from class sizes to school equipment, nutrition and learning and teaching support material. Reliable, consistent data matters.
Vodacom Business Chief Officer Vuyani Jarana says: “At Vodacom we have always believe in the centrality of ICT in general and mobile in particular, in the transformation of education in this country to improve education outcomes. Our partnership with GDE is a clear illustration of how public and private sector can collaborate and commit time, effort and resources to deliver mass social progress .In our partnership with GDE we continue to challenge each other to be innovative in order to deliver a bigger impact in the shortest possible time period .”
This partnership with the GDE builds on an established partnership with the National Department of Education and other national departments that exploit communication and technology solutions to improve the lives of people.
As an investor and operator in South Africa, Vodacom remains committed to supporting areas of national priority, especially education: In the last year alone, the Vodacom Foundation invested over R86 million in community projects, R52 million of this was invested in education. Through its Mobile Education Programme, it has partnered with the Department of Basic Education to connect 81 ICT resource centres that provide teachers throughout South Africa with better access and understanding on integrating ICT in their teaching experience. The programme has boosted the skills of around 10 000 teachers in maths and science, coaching them in how to use the available technology in the learning process.
Vodacom’s school connectivity programme has connected 2 194 schools across Gauteng. Overall, it has connected 3 087 schools with data access and exceeded Vodacom’s target for universal service obligations. Each school receives free internet connectivity as part of this project, as well as 26 tablets, a laptop, an interactive whiteboard, a data projector, a printer and educational aids. In addition, Vodacom has developed and rolled out an online education portal, Vodacom eSchool, that enables learners from Grades 4-12 to access curriculum aligned educational content for free. At last count, the portal had under 200 000 learners accessing the material and video lessons.
Vodacom has seven ICT Resource centres across the province including Gauteng East, Ekhuruleni South, Tshwane, Soweto, Tshwane West, Tshwane North and Ekhuruleni North. The devices will be used by Gauteng principals for the next two years.