Vastfontein brings quality technology training to a previously disadvantaged community with the support of our partners in the ICT sector. Our first step towards this transition was the establishment of our school which put us in a position to expose our pupils to this technology, thereby releasing more of their potential while equipping them for the real world. The next phase was accomplished through the implementation of our Digital Hub which was kindly sponsored by Dartcom (Pty) Ltd and delivered by Got-Game.
The hub is a ‘POP UP’ (“Point of Presence for Unleashing Potential”) infrastructure that provides our students with an opportunity to access contemporary eLearning tools and resources through the latest technology equipping our learners with the ingredients for a successful career in the current world.
With all contemporary additions to education through technology, the challenge lies in deciding whether certain technologies should be implemented and to what extent they should be executed. Our trusted partners assist us in these decisions based on the degree in which these technologies facilitate knowledge and skills transfer. However, these decisions are also based on various factors such as:
Ease of use
With the right partners we should be able to address the above-mentioned challenges while assisting each other in a symbiotic relationship that allows for the maximum potential of our learners through growth and training, culminating in well-educated leaders of tomorrow; ones that could potentially join our partners in their own capacities as highly skilled employees.
Our dream is to equip every Vastfontein teaching facility with an interactive multi-media platform which will enable teachers and learners to work interactively through the curriculum content. Our vision is that this will be possible through making use of large touch-screen display systems for the teachers’ use while students will be equipped with Wi-Fi enabled tablets. The tablets will enable students to interact with content that is both current and meaningful in terms of what is accessible to modern learners; high quality audio and video, obtained from various sources, including online curriculum providers such as Cambridge. The content will be managed by a state-of-the-art educational curriculum planning and management system. This system will be housed on a secure on-site server with a cloud-based back-up facility. Learning material will be distributed to the teaching facilities via high speed cable and Wi-Fi networks.
Today, growing up in a rural region in Southern Africa often means growing up without a decent education. Rural people are often caught in the vicious cycle of having no access to the services and opportunities that might lift them out of poverty – education, gainful employment, adequate nutrition, infrastructure and communications. Although the government’s feeding scheme is of great help, it’s the only meal of the day for some learners; therefore it’s just not sufficient to feed all children properly. Poverty and illiteracy remain as an overwhelmingly rural phenomenon. Education for rural people lies at the heart of rural development and this is fundamental for reducing poverty worldwide. A crucial issue is that the curriculum used must be relevant to rural people’s needs. Linking school with the community will enable teachers to improve the quality and relevance of the education they are providing. It is an accepted fact that rural people with basic education are more likely to adopt new technology and become more productive, and can deal better with change. However, there are no quick fixes for providing education to the rural poor; this requires a long-term effort and commitment, with concerted action at the local, national and international level.
Dr. Jurie Joubert
Senior Lecturer, Education, CPUT
WELLINGTON, South Africa