Vodacom Managing Executive, Mr Malik Melamu,
Vodacom Managing Executive, Ms Mickey Mashale,
Vodacom Head of CSI Projects, Mr Mthobeli Tengimfene
Ladies and gentlemen,
I’m indeed delighted to address this special occasion launching the Vhembe Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Resource Centre, courtesy of the Vodacom Foundation.
The Vodacom Foundation has gone to great lengths to help improve the quality of education in our country.
Since its launch in October 2012, the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme has given us hope that South Africa, and indeed Africa, can and must bridge the digital divide. This partnership confirms our belief as government that working together we can do more to build a prosperous society.
We welcome Vhembe ICT Centre that is one of the nine being established by Vodacom in each of South Africa’s provinces as part of the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme.
This innovative initiative is levelling the playing field for many learners with limited or no access to technology, particularly in rural parts of our country.
For this we’re very grateful to the Vodacom Foundation and indeed we can shower the Limpopo Provincial Education Department with only sweet words and endless praises for this fruitful partnership.
It is a most timely partnership at a time when government has resolved to accelerate the massive national infrastructure development programme. As we build schools and roll-back the school infrastructure backlog, we will indeed rely on partnerships of this nature to ensure connectivity and technological savvy of both teachers and learners.
Properly handled, centres of this nature will go a long way in offsetting the country’s job-creation and skills development deficit. These are not only for the benefit of schools.
The brilliant idea of establishing community-based ICT centres that service schools, districts and communities broadly, is truly noble, beneficial and nation-building.
I have no doubt that the community of Vhembe agrees with me that Vodacom has done much for the education of their children and future generations.
It is against this background that we are grateful to Vodacom and the e-learning service providers, Microsoft, Cisco and Mindset.
We entreat teachers in this district to make good use of the resource at all times.
Most importantly, I value support for teachers that includes training of about 1 400 (teachers) annually in the use of ICT to support teaching and learning.
With better resourced, skilled and knowledgeable teachers, we can meet the nation’s call for improved learning outcomes.
I’m saying this conscious of and fascinated by the fact that the Vodacom programme will also ensure teachers receive quality education content and create an opportunity for interaction between teachers and lecturers.
Professional development of teachers is central to the attainment of the goals we have committed to in our long-term plan for the basic education sector, Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realization of schooling 2025.
Producing an effective and well capacitated teaching corps is the key to achieving improved and sustained learning outcomes. This requires teachers to have easy access to training and resources. We therefore view the establishment of the ICT resource centres as central to our objectives.
Information and Communication Technology is the driving force for 21st century teaching and learning. Our world is dominantly information-driven. And so, as John Dewey has rightly said: “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow”.
As the proverbial saying goes, we should bear in mind at all times that the children we teach today were born in another time. It would be a disservice to the nation and to sustainable development were we to confine our learners in any way to our own modes of learning (Derived from a Chinese Proverb.)
It is critical therefore that teachers have access to ICT equipment, quality digitised and interactive content and connectivity as tools for teaching. And that’s why we feel so indebted to the Vodacom Foundation for its investment in our country and its people.
I have a special message for Vodacom Executives. That is, if you’re planning to increase the number of ICT centres you have so far provided, you are most welcome. Please do so!
As I have said before, your invaluable contribution to education has really advanced our efforts fully to implement the White Paper on e-Education which emphasises connectivity.
We’re working with the Department of Communication on school connectivity initiatives to ensure schools make use of ICTs to improve the quality of teaching and learning and to scale-up school administration.
The implementation of our connectivity plan has already started, including in this district. It should complement the work that Vodacom has done in partnership with the Limpopo Provincial Education Department.
This year we’re zooming on inclusive education, therefore we warmly embrace Vodacom Foundation’s decision to make all ICT centres accessible to persons with disabilities.
Also welcome is Vodacom’s insightful decision to promote the teaching and learning of maths and science, which also form part of our key priorities. Vodacom’s Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs, Maya Makanjee, was spot on, and I quote:
“Interventions such as these are not only expected to improve learner pass rate numbers for mathematics and science in the province, but are also expected to ensure that pupils pursue these subjects in university.”
Lastly, we commit to do our utmost best to ensure these resources do not degenerate into some white elephant.
And this I say conscious of the fact that, in addition to ICT resources, these goals of meeting the technological demands of the 21st Century require that as education we should entrench by all means possible the 3Ts of Teachers, Text and Time on Task.
Teachers and learners must be in class teaching and learning, at least seven hours of each school day, for us to reap the rewards of this valuable investment.
We must curb by all means possible the scourge of absenteeism in our schools.
But ladies and gentlemen,
I’m saying this without taking away the value of the Vodacom investment in education.
This is a great partnership for promoting quality teaching and quality learning, using technology as an enabler in the classroom.
Working together we can do more to improve the quality of basic education.
I thank you.