Our new strategy continues to weave the golden thread of education as a vital enabler in our society. With a more focused approach we expect to yield deeper benefits for everyone involved, and in turn through their contribution, more tangible benefits for the Telkom Group and wider South African society in the long-term.
For the pilot project, the Telkom Foundation selected five high schools in the Tshwane West Education District, in relatively close proximity to Telkom’s campus in Centurion. These include schools in Soshanguve, Winterveldt and GaRankuwa, all of which battle with the problems generally facing learners in disadvantaged schools: teacher shortages, ill-equipped classrooms, inadequate teaching resources, poor learner assessment and a lack of ICT skills among learners and educators. The schools were selected in collaboration with the district office of the Department of Education. The Foundation engaged with the school governing bodies, leadership and parents at a number of schools in the region. After considering the strength of leadership, governance and commitment to STEM subjects as well as willingness of educators to embrace the considerable change and additional commitment the project involves, five schools were selected.
At each school, the Telkom Foundation is supporting the Grade 8 learners through to matric. The GDE has committed to rolling out the programme up to grades 11 and 12. Each year the new Grade 8 class will be included, with the total number of learners amounting to 3000 in the final year. In taking a holistic approach we are not only providing the ICT infrastructure and related support but will focus on the psycho-social and socio-economic aspects that impact the learners education experience. Telkom as a business has an unrivalled capacity to provide ICT solutions, but we recognise that to make a lasting difference we need to go further than that.
This year Telkom’s R13 million initial investment in the programme, provided hardware and software, a range of training and support for learners and educators, educational content, improved facilities at each school and a dedicated full time facilitator based at each school.
Each Grade 8 learner received a two in one tablet device.
In February 2017, the learners enjoyed a day of training at Telkom’s Centre for Learning to be taught how to make the most of digital learning technology. The Learner Orientation Programme in ICT showed the youths how the ICT industry is shaping the world. The programme introduced the learners to different careers in the ICT space and demonstrated how these jobs can really make a meaningful contribution to society. We also introduced the learners to the world of gaming, giving them a full picture of the reach of ICT in our world.
Digital learning experts ExtraMarks provided the Learner Management System that will allow the learners to engage with digital content in a fun, exciting and effective way.
At each school the classrooms for Grade 8s were transformed, technologically, replacing black board with technology boards and installing the latest ICT equipment, but also transformed into modern dynamic education environments, newly painted in bright colours with modern desk orientations.
Each school now has a new computer lab for Grade 9-12 to provide access to technology and educational content to the learners at the school not directly involved in the programme. The schools receive connectivity of 100 gigabites per month.
The educators received in depth change management training and ICT integration training in partnership with SchoolNet SA. They received laptops, which they can take home to prepare their lessons, and the motivation to do so. Each school has a full-time facilitator. Telkom Foundation has employed and trained five young interns, one for each school to manage and support the educators. Three of the five interns are young women. All the interns were local youths, previously unemployed, who have undergone training in ICT at Telkom, including training in ICT management and the internet of things.
The new programme has a rigorous monitoring and evaluation element, aimed at shaping the programme as it progresses over the next five years and informing Telkom’s future interventions.