Sunday, September 27, 2020

The national lockdown has certainly been a lesson in rolling with the punches – particularly for learners, their parents and educators who have had to adjust to the idea of an ‘online classroom’ to ensure learners stay on top of the 2020 school year despite school closures.

And while the transition has undoubtedly been challenging for everyone involved, many would agree that the benefits of online learning make it all worth it. For one thing, the ability to keep learners learning despite the massive disruption that has taken place would not have been possible without a reliable internet connection in the home and classroom.

The shift towards online learning is also a positive step towards integrating digital technology into school curriculums, which research suggests helps learners to retain more information than traditional methods, while also allowing them to learn at their own pace.

“Fast fibre internet is the key to ensuring uninterrupted, efficient e-learning experiences, and although fibre is still in relative early stages of adoption in South Africa, the country is incredibly fortunate for the strides that were made in fibre technology over the last decade,” says Dietlof Mare CEO, Vuma, leading fibre infrastructure provider in SA.

According to statistics released by the FTTX Council, over 496 000 homes had an active fibre internet connection in 2019 – nearly double the number of billed fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections in the previous year. Those numbers continue to grow as fibre coverage maps expand to include more neighbourhoods throughout the country.

Fibre to schools

Fibre is also gradually making its way into more schools around the country as institutions expand curriculums to include e-learning initiatives and bring classrooms into the digital era. Vuma’s Fibre to Schools programme has supported this vision in its pledge to provide schools on its existing deployment route with a free 1Gbps fibre connection, and many educators believe that this will be a saving grace during and post lockdown.

“We are very grateful for the Vuma fibre connection to our school and have found it very useful during the lockdown as a medium of communication in order to facilitate online schooling,” says Christian Andrews, Principal at Andrews Academy in Johannesburg. “When connectivity is poor, every aspect of running the school is affected. VOIP phones, CCTV and online operations are compromised.”

As parents wrestle with the notion of sending their children back to school following Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s announcement that schools are to reopen on 1 June, fibre in schools may offer alternative and innovative solutions to this problem. For instance, livestreams for the benefit of learners who choose to remain at home can access. Online exams “with biometric security features”, which will likely be a reality in the near future according to Principal Andrews, are a greater possibility for learners working from home with a high-speed fibre connection.
A fast, reliable and affordable fibre internet connection both in class and at home is crucial for facilitating online home schooling to help minimise the impact that COVID-19 has had on the education system and ensure more streamlined, efficient and seamless learning experiences.

Parents looking to upgrade to fibre for the home, as well as schools that want to find out if they qualify for a free 1Gbps fibre line can visit www.vumatel.co.za for more information.

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