The Vodacom Foundation, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (DBE), has launched the Virtual Classroom solution with a robotic and coding component at Dr WF Nkomo Secondary School in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, yesterday. The digital platform supports Vodacom’s commitment to accelerating access to digital education in under-resourced areas of South Africa.

The virtual classroom was approved by ICASA at the height of Covid-19 with a view to government and the operators creating a conducive environment for the teachers and learners mainly in schools in the poorest communities  to deliver and access teaching and learning material remotely. Covid-19 was a game changer that exposed the huge inequalities in education, and thus, following the roll-out of the temporary spectrum obligation roll-out of the six mandated virtual classrooms, the Vodacom Foundation is now rolling out the virtual classroom solution in its thirteen schools of excellence.This virtual classroom, complimented by a robotics and coding component, takes the Foundation’s education ecosystem to another level of the comprehensive approach to education which prepares learners to deal with societal ills through psychosocial support and to embrace the fourth industrial revolution. When the entire project is complete across the thirteen schools, about 14 000 learners will benefit from this virtual classroom initiative in partnership with the Vodacom Foundation.Takalani Netshitenzhe, Director of External Affairs, Vodacom South Africa

The virtual classroom offers a fully kitted e-learning end-to-end solution with  internet connectivity in the entire school. The network enables the school to also connect to educational broadcasting centres and other schools to share resources and expertise remotely. In addition, learners and educators are equipped with data-enabled digital devices to connect to each other, regardless of location. They can also access curricula-aligned content, as well as platforms such as Microsoft Office 365 Education, 2Enable and Vodacom e-School, for better learning outcomes.

Virtual Classroom is ensuring our school’s educators and learners can be more productive through connectivity. Online access, robotics and coding have the potential to grow young minds so that they are equipped with knowledge and digital skills to find their place in the future.Mr. Chauke, School Principal, Dr WF Nkomo.

UNICEF suggests that globally, only one in three school-age children have internet access at home, while only 50-60% of secondary schools and only 40% of primary schools around the world have connectivity. This ‘digital divide’ is greater in less developed countries.

Vodacom remains committed to addressing the digital divide within our education sector, particularly in rural and underperforming schools in the country. By partnering with government and other organisations to increase access to digital technology, we can help transform educational outcomes for those who need it most, and ultimately, build a more inclusive digital society.Takalani Netshitenzhe, Director of External Affairs, Vodacom South Africa