Telecoms companies are playing a critical role in these trying times. They are providing the vital infrastructure that enables social connectivity in a world of social distancing during the national Covid-19 lockdown.
Grade 11 learners at Nqweba Secondary School in Graaff-Reinet received a personalised android tablet, pre-loaded with their subject textbooks, educational websites and learning apps, plus 2GB of free data per month supplied by leading network providers.
The Omang ed-tech tablet was developed and donated by Jendamark Automation, will help the 114 learners to study remotely as Covid-19 continues to disrupt what remains of the academic year. The device will also provide critical educational support as they progress to the final year of high school next year.
Jendamark Group Managing Director, Quinton Uren said the Omang device had been piloted among a thousand Grade 12 learners from quintile one and two schools.“Our research showed that what was needed was an affordable device that provides safe, controlled access to really useful educational resources. The result is our platform, which is essentially a protected digital classroom,” said Uren.
“We are over the moon,” said Headmaster, Zolile Malotana. Grade 11 learner, Khazimla Pikashe said “The Omang device will help me to focus and be more alive to my studies. It has been very difficult because it has been months that we have been at home. We don’t have access to the internet and we don’t have money to buy data every day so that we can interact with our teachers. We don’t know where we stand with our schoolwork.”
The device also allows the school’s teachers to support learners remotely by uploading their own content, including video lessons, old exam papers and notes, setting multiple-choice tests and answering questions via safe class chat forums.
“It’s going to help the teachers a lot because now, learners can communicate with their teachers about any challenges they are having and, similarly, if there’s something that comes up from the educator, it is easy for them to communicate with learners through the devices,” said Malotana.
Pikashe said the additional resources would help him improve his grades even after classes resumed. “It means a lot. For example, we don’t have Life Sciences textbooks in my school, and it’s a very difficult subject. It will help us so much to access information beyond what our teacher tells us in class, “she added.
Graaff-Reinet Executive Mayor Deon de Vos said the youth of the town faced many socio-economic problems such as unemployment and substance abuse.“But there are those young people who stand out, and education is one of the tools they can use to liberate themselves from the conditions they find themselves in,” said De Vos.
He added that the school was a worthy beneficiary because the teachers and learners were passionate about education, which was reflected in the 87% matric pass rate last year.“This partnership will really assist in empowering our youngsters. This device and its Odin Education ecosystem makes it possible for them to reach out and see the world. They will make the best of it,” said De Vos.