Amdocs, Telkom Foundation give local schools a digital boost

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The Telkom Foundation has joined forces with software and services provider Amdocs South Africa to assist three local disadvantaged schools with digital devices.

This will help the schools to catch up with the lost learning time as a result of the COVID-19-related disruption to the education system.

According to a statement, Khwezi Lomso Comprehensive School and Ndzondelelo High School in Gqeberha, and Le Reng Secondary School in Ladybrand will receive internet data, tablet devices, food parcels and other COVID-19 relief items.

The initiative is aimed at encouraging learners to keep up with their schooling in the wake of the difficult circumstances that led to many pupils being between 75% and one year behind where they should be, as highlighted in the snap survey results of the 2021 National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM).

Amdocs South Africa CEO Pikie Monaheng says, while some children have been able to forge ahead with a combination of online and in-person classes, those in disadvantaged rural and urban communities do not have the necessary access to internet connectivity, internet-enabled devices or digital literacy to stay abreast of their school work.

“This disparity in digital inclusion prompted Amdocs to partner with Telkom Foundation to provide connectivity, devices and skills to learners in two local communities.

“The initiative comes at a time when things are tougher than ever for many South Africans. We wanted to promote digital inclusion because we believe remote or hybrid learning will continue for some time – in some instances becoming the norm − and we want to be part of efforts aimed at giving children and schools the tools they need to continue without interruption,” he explains.

The NIDS-CRAM study further revealed that as many as 750 000 learners dropped out of school during the pandemic, with school attendance at the lowest level in 20 years in SA.

In addition to promoting digital inclusion measures, Amdocs says it will provide humanitarian help to hard-hit communities in the form of food and other basic supplies, as well as pay school fees for some of the children whose families cannot afford to do so.

Telkom Foundation says it will, in turn, partner with two additional foundations – Zifundiseni ICT Foundation and Thlali Nthlajana Foundation – to ensure the assistance gets to the identified learners who need it most.

This is one of several education and learner support projects Telkom Foundation helps to facilitate in collaboration with government, the private sector and education institutions. These include the Connected Schools Programme, Rally to Read, the Future of the African Daughter and Ikateleng projects.

Telkom Foundation CSI specialist Puso Waga Monese says, while COVID-19 may not have the same health implications for children as it does for adults, it causes other untold damage.

“Not only do children have to deal with interrupted schooling and related activities, the socio-economic impact of the pandemic – in the form of their parents getting sick or losing their jobs – can entrench poverty and lead to mental health and other issues.

“The assistance we receive from organisations such as Amdocs to promote digital inclusion and help vulnerable children in their formative years to learn and grow is invaluable,” he notes.

Amdocs says it has also instituted various similar programmes in Kenya, India, Mexico and Israel, and is planning to extend its efforts further afield in Africa and other continents.

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