Vodacom’s well-established partnership with government was extended in 2021, when National Treasury awarded the company with a renewed mobile communication services contract. Through the first partnership agreement, Vodacom successfully upgraded the Gauteng Education Department’s legacy school admissions system that was formerly plagued with technical issues, resulting in slow admission processing. In 2016, Vodacom redeveloped the Department’s eAdmission system to include the latest technologies, enabling the system to operate efficiently and providing the best user experience. Since then, the admissions system has received over 255 000 applications and processed over 1 000 applications per minute during peak times.
“The pandemic highlighted the digital divide that already existed in South Africa’s education system,” says Poppy Tshabalala, Managing Executive of Public Enterprise at Vodacom. “With that said, it also presented an opportunity to make progress on our efforts, as a country, to accelerate e-learning and bridge the digital divide. As a purpose-led company, we’re proud to have been part of the solution because we believe in a connected digital society that connects people, communities and things to the internet like never before.”
How Vodacom is digitising education in SA
In 2014, Vodacom launched an e-learning platform in partnership with the Department of Education to create a free digital-education portal that provides CAPS-aligned educational content for learners in grades R to 12. With many children unable to attend school in person at the peak of the pandemic, registrations on the Vodacom e-School platform increased to over 1.2-million.
In March this year, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, Vodacom installed its Virtual Classroom solution at various schools in rural areas across three provinces in the country. This included the installation of hardware at the schools to deliver Wi-Fi as well as streaming hardware. To enable connectivity remotely for the educators and learners, Vodacom provides a monthly 10G data bundle plus a SIM for the learners and a 20G monthly data bundle with a SIM and MiFi router for the educators.
The national rollout of the Virtual Classroom solution forms part of Vodacom’s larger Connected Education platform, which was created to transform the education sector by leveraging the power of technology to bridge the digital divide in schools. Launched in 2020 in partnership with Microsoft South Africa, the Connected Education platform is a single educational space where learners can connect with their teachers and access productivity apps such as Teams, OneNote, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
In the Eastern Cape, other solutions rolled out to deliver ICT-enabled teaching and learning include the Vodacom Secure Device Manager, The Citizen Engagement app, and the easy-to-use web-based School Management System that captures data to give the education department real-time visibility at all their schools. Through Vodacom’s partnership with government, the Eastern Cape Department of Education also received laptops for all foundation-phase teachers, tablets for all school principals, and digital solutions that enabled the department to better manage the learning process throughout the province.
“As a provider of digital solutions to government, we are pleased to be able to continue to partner in driving digital transformation in education, which will no doubt be beneficial to learners, resulting in future societal and economic benefits,” concludes Tshabalala.