The MTN SA Foundation, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, has unveiled three multimedia centres that will cater for learners with special educational needs in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).
The multimedia centres were last week handed over to the Day Dawn Special School, S.Dass Special School and VN Naik School for the Deaf.
In a statement, the foundation says the centres will ensure learners and communities across KZN continue to use learning resources offered via its MTN Online School e-learning platform.
The R6 million investment in the centres will ensure the schools stay connected during network outages caused by load-shedding, battery theft and vandalism, it notes.
“The handover of the multimedia centres is the next step in the MTN Foundation’s support of the communities of KZN and eThekwini at large,” says Arthur Mukhuvha, GM of the MTN SA Foundation.
“While our main focus remains to help increase access to digital learning and improve academic performance, this is not possible without reliable access to connectivity and, through it, to data and information.”
The MTN Foundation reveals KZN saw 536 networking sites vandalised between January 2022 and February 2023, with rural remote areas hit the hardest. Sites in the eThekwini Metro have also been affected.
“During periods when load-shedding is at stages one or two, which allows for MTN backup batteries to recharge, one might expect that access to the network would continue, but criminals are still vandalising towers and stealing batteries, which means students can’t fully utilise the multimedia centres or e-learning platforms even when the power is on,” comments Mukhuvha.
“We’re working on engaging several critical role-players to collaborate on matters related to the impact of any extended outages and actively seeking alternative solutions to ensure connectivity during load-shedding, but criminal activity continues. Community support and vigilance is desperately needed.”
Historically, the MTN SA Foundation’s programmes have been aimed at schools, universities and nursing colleges.