Absolom Ntsianda runs a Teacher Centre. In two years of taking over he doubled the numbers of teachers, principals and community receiving training. His goal for this year is to have trained a 1,000 teachers and a similar number of community members.
Absolom previously worked for the DBE as a Curriculum Advisor for Computer Applications Technology (CAT). When he began at the centre he noticed that many teachers lacked basic knowledge in the Internet, and other everyday ICT applications. This made it hard to train them on more advanced subjects.
To fix the gap in knowledge Absolom devised a basic training, which includes using web browsers, searching with Google, and storing files in the cloud. Once trainees are comfortable with web-browsing he introduces them to the zero-rated educational websites: Vodacom e-School, Learn Mindset, Digital Classroom and Thutong.
He also shows trainees how to set up their phones so they can access free Wi-Fi to download their emails and browse the web. The use of WhatsApp groups has also had a big impact, not just for training, but also to enable circuit managers to keep track of attendance.
Absolom enjoys meeting grateful teachers he's trained, who proudly tell him that they are using Google every day. He believes that everyone in education - principals, circuit managers, subject advisors etc. - needs to be aware of, and involved, in e-learning so they can support teachers in implementing lessons learnt. He believes it’s also important for department officials to understand that delivery of ICT tools must go hand-in-hand with training. Absolom, who is not only a Centre Manager but also an e-Learning specialist, hopes that his centre will soon have training reinforcements so he can expand the training further.
Siyavula ( http://www.siyavula.com/) is a partner to the Vodacom Foundation in terms of creating and delivering educational content to learners. In the beginning of 2015 Siyavula gave 20,000 learners, at 80 schools, their Intelligent Practice maths/science e-learning programme. One of those schools is Dumabezwe Secondary, just outside Ixopo, in KwaZulu-Natal, where Sineliso Sithole attended Grade 10 in 2015.
Dumabezwe Secondary is a deeply rural school. When the Vodacom Foundation visited the school in 2015 it had no running water, and no electricity, and the surrounding villages are mostly rural homesteads
The network reach at Dumabezwe is patchy, and the Vodacom signal virtually nonexistent. Hence, the surprise when it was discovered that someone from the school was racing ahead of the other 80,000 learners in completing the Intelligent Practice exercises. When representatives from the Vodacom Foundation visited the school they got to the bottom of the extraordinary story.
Sineliso’s science teacher, Mr. Sifiso Ngubo, was driving kids to the top of a nearby hill in order to receive the Vodacom signal and access the e-School site for free. Sineliso’s parents also played their part, buying him a Vodafone 875 so that he could access the site and complete the exercises.
After completing 10,000 exercises, and seeing his marks improve dramatically, Sineliso was honoured by Siyavula, earning the Learner of the Month accolade in June 2015. In his own words: “I enjoy Intelligent Practice because I can see how it improves my marks.” and in the words of Mr. Ngubo: “Sineliso is a helpful, dedicated student who assisted his fellow students in using Intelligent Practice.”
Terence Masuku joined the Vodacom Youth Academy at Emalahleni (Witbank) Teacher Centre in 2014. He enrolled for the Cisco training, IT essentials and Microsoft applications. As the breadwinner of his family, caring for his grandmother and siblings, he could not afford to take a bus or taxi to the centre. He did not, however, ever miss a class or arrive late. So he hitchhiked for more than 100 km from his home to the centre each morning, and hitchhiked back again in the afternoon, arriving on time for every single class. At the end of 2014 Terence graduated top of his class in Mpumalanga, and 3rd overall in the country; today he is an instructor at the centre. He recently won the CISCO Best Instructor Recognition Award - Advanced Level ITE.
“I completed Grade 12 in 2009, but due to financial constraints was forced to take a gap year in 2010. Both my parents have never been to university and had neither resources nor information to assist me. Through personal research I was able to apply to, and got accepted at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) to study Information Technology. I commenced my first year in January 2011 with no financial assistance whatsoever. In 2012 I applied for the Vodacom Bursary and was fortunate to be chosen. In 2012 I was awarded top Vodacom Student in MUT, which gave me the motivation and courage to work even harder. For the 2013 academic year I was awarded Top Vodacom Bursar in KwaZulu-Natal; I also received incentives from Vodacom for obtaining an average of 85% in all my modules. I am currently a bursar intern doing six months experiential learning. My experience with Vodacom has been absolutely amazing and fruitful. I am grateful to Vodacom for not only supporting me financially but for being like a family to me.” Mr. Ngubo: “Sineliso is a helpful, dedicated student who assisted his fellow students in using Intelligent Practice.”