Vanderbijl pupils receive tablets

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The MTN SA Foundation, in partnership with Huawei and the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE), yesterday handed over a multi-media centre and tablets to learners at Sapphire Secondary School in Vanderbijlpark.

The tablets, sponsored by Huawei, will help the school’s computer applications technology (CAT) pupils with their studies. Meanwhile, the 40-seater multimedia centre, sponsored by MTN, will be open to help the school’s other learners explore online opportunities.

The handover forms part of MTN’s ongoing partnership with the GDE that’s seen more than 30 schools in the district receive nearly R4 million-worth of equipment and data donations.

Jackson Zhu, Huawei’s MTN SA account director, said, “As Huawei, we’re committed to bridging the digital divide, especially in these trying times. We will continue working with partners like MTN to provide access to the digital world.” Zhu also addressed the pupils, encouraging them to use the tablets to ‘unleash their potential’.

Angie Maloka, the MTN Foundation’s community programmes senior manager, said the handover is part of the goal of enhancing teaching and learning through technology, ensuring that “no child is left behind” in experiencing the opportunities presented by technology.

“Most of the country’s youth is unemployed and yet in our industry we’re struggling to find people with the skills needed to service the technology. So, today, we’re planting a seed in the learners’ minds that tech is the future and that they must be part of that future.”

“Technology is an equaliser, we want to equip our youth with the 4IR aligned skills needed to access the same opportunities as their peers in connected countries.”

Maloka said Sapphire Secondary was their second stop that day, having earlier visited Rutasetjhaba Secondary. The two schools were given 236 Huawei Matepad T8 tablets between them, while Rutasetjhaba’s multimedia centre was handed over last year.

The MTN Foundation also sponsors a number of schools with 20GB of data for two years and trains CAT teachers to use the donated equipment.

Aletta Kutoane, Sapphire Secondary’s CAT teacher, said the school had to suspend its CAT programme in the past.

“These Grade 10s are the first group of pupils we’re teaching the subject again. We had to stop it a few years ago because of issues like load-shedding and broken equipment.” She said the tablets will help the learners keep up with their work from home as lessons can be downloaded at school and completed offline. Learners will also have access to STEM e-learning platform Siyavula.

Says Kutoane, “We have a lot of learners interested in studying IT-related courses but they haven’t been exposed to the opportunities they need; this media centre can change that.”

Grade 10s ITWeb spoke to said the donation will help them better prepare for a world in which technology is everywhere. They said they wanted to explore STEM careers and will use the equipment to find tools and lessons they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

Gauteng education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, also spoke at the event, saying: “Our children deserve better, they must be part of the future, not just as spectators but as contributors too.”

He went on to plead with community members to protect the equipment, “We're tired of people being selfish. When we bring infrastructure to communities, it’s not there to be damaged. It's there because we care for our children’s future. So please, protect it. If the future's bright for our kids, it's bright for all of us.”

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