Explosive growth for Vodacom e-School platform amid lockdown

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 31 Mar 2020
Takalani Netshitenzhe, chief officer of corporate affairs for Vodacom Group.
Takalani Netshitenzhe, chief officer of corporate affairs for Vodacom Group.

Vodacom says it has seen a surge in registrations on its e-School platform since government announced the nationwide lockdown as the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) escalates.

Vodacom says user registrations on the platform have gone up by over 1 000% compared to previous historic periods, nearing one million users. The telco says content utilisation increased by 300% over previous averages, with mathematics, natural sciences and accounting topping the charts.

According to Vodacom, the massive sudden increase in registration started on Sunday, 15 March, with Vodacom e-School going from an average of 40 000 student events per day to a peak of close to 150 000.

On 15 March, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced measures to protect the country from the spread of COVID-19 and, as a result, school holidays were brought forward, impacting the learning schedule.

In an effort to assist learners, government has stepped up efforts to ensure virtual learning is a reality during the nationwide lockdown.

The departments of communications and digital technologies and basic education recently joined forces to deliver on this.

Detailing the interventions undertaken by her department to mitigate some of the COVID-19 impact, communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said as the department charged with SA’s ICT agenda, it must determine how technology can help address the disruption caused in the education system.

Now, Vodacom says its e-School platform is proving to be invaluable for the scores of school-going children at home on extended school break.

Vodacom e-School is a free, unlimited online education portal that provides educational content for learners in grades R to 12. This includes assignments, quizzes and interactive learning videos.

The content is fully aligned to the Department of Basic Education national curriculum and assessment policy statement and is available in all 11 South African languages.

The platform is accessible via mobile and desktop, free of charge to all Vodacom customers.

According to Vodacom, the strong growth of its platform is being fuelled by a strong uptake from learners in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

It expects the growth in registrations and usage to increase in the coming weeks.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, chief officer of corporate affairs for Vodacom Group, says: “Supporting education is the main focus of the Vodacom Foundation, so we are encouraged by the phenomenal growth of new subscribers signing up on the free e-School learning platform.

“This demonstrates the platform is addressing a societal need at a time when the private sector needs to join hands with government as it contends with COVID-19. It is also clear that our message to parents and guardians to encourage learners to continue with their studies by using Vodacom e-School has been heeded and that they are finding the platform useful.”

Moreover, Netshitenzhe says: “Our e-School platform is in line with Vodacom's ongoing drive to help provide ICT tools and Internet connectivity to communities that do not have access. By providing access to Internet services to improve the standard of education, Vodacom is able to uplift learners and the quality of education in our country as SA is gearing up for the fourth industrial revolution.”

In order to access the Vodacom e-School, users need to visit the platform Web site from their cellphone, tablet or laptop to register.

Data charges will apply to those who are not Vodacom subscribers.