Telkom, through the Telkom Foundation, announced a major investment in education when it pledged more than R200 million over the next five years to contribute towards improving the quality of teaching and learning with a specific focus on Maths, Science and English in disadvantaged communities.
The programme will be rolled out in two provinces, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, in Port Elizabeth and Tshwane West respectively. The programme kicked off in Tshwane West where five schools (NM Tsuene High in Ga-Rankuwa, Ruabohlale High and Seageng High in Soshanguve, Winterveldt High and MH Baloyi High in Winterveldt), received high-tech infrastructure as part of the company’s Connected Schools Programme (CSP).
At the event, Telkom also announced its Supplementary Programme to support Grade 8 learners through to matric to improve the quality of their passes.
Approximately R130 million of the total investment will be used for the Supplementary Programme, which includes the training of teachers. Part of the Supplementary Programme is an important focus on the psycho-social element, which aims to sustain the learners’ performance through support and understanding the effect their home environment can have on their academic performance and life skills.
The next area to be targeted will be Port Elizabeth with the rest of the country benefiting from a phased roll out. The programme aims to benefit 3,000 learners in year one with 934 learners currently taking part.
The CSP is a three-phased programme that aims to assist learners to improve their performance in Grades 8 through to 12, in the subjects of Mathematics, Science and English. The programme identifies, develops and supports learners to ensure they are aptly prepared for employment in ICT related careers.
Each of the five schools will receive the upgrade to meet the 21st century look and feel with new furniture and a computer lab for 50 users. About 943 learners and 60 teachers will receive 2-in-1 tablets and 60 laptops, which are loaded with educational content. The technology will be protected by 24-hour security.
The overall strategy of the Telkom Foundation is anchored in three phases, namely: High School Support, Tertiary Support and Economic Participation, while also providing the relevant technical support to learners from Grade 8 through to university and then creating the necessary opportunities for employment or enterprise development once they are qualified.
To ensure a holistic approach to the programme is taken, Telkom also hosted the parents of the learners at a Mandela Day event on July 18 where 67 parents took a 67-minute class facilitated by Telkom volunteers to educate them on ICT and cyber security.
Comment from Telkom’s Group CEO, Mr Sipho Maseko
“It has been made very clear that we have a significant skills gap in South Africa, as well as a lack of connectivity in certain areas. While the focus on subjects such as Maths and Science at a school level has increased, this has not been supported by actual large-scale investment. We are changing that. Through this type of investment, we are training learners and teachers, equipping schools and supporting the Department of Basic Education by creating environments which encourage growth and development.”
“We see ourselves as critical enablers in the ICT space to create the required skills for the economy of the future. Our aim as Telkom, through the Foundation, is to elevate disadvantaged schools to the technological level of their more developed counterparts. In doing so, we are working to meet current and future skills demand, starting with the learners of today.”
Comment from the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga
“The use of ICTs in education, is increasingly becoming an important medium for complementing the delivery of curriculum in most developing countries, and most definitely for our country.” “Therefore, the continuous and valued contribution by Telkom to assist the Department in placing key ICT devices in the hands of our teachers and learners, has the potential to break the digital divide and indeed assist us in improving the ICT professional development of all teachers involved.”
Comment from the Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi
“We are indeed proud of the R200m pledged over the next five years, by the Telkom Foundation, as public-private partnership is important and goes a long way to enhancing the work of government towards the development of our future leaders, our learners.”
Comment from Minister Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele
“We are digitising government to improve the quality and efficiency of delivering services to our people. A key component of this endeavour is to develop critical digital skills that are needed in the future. Government welcomes the progressive partnerships with the private sector that are aimed at creating a more inclusive society. There can be no better investment than supporting the education of our youth. We are placing our future in the hands of young people.”