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ECape matrics to get SIMs pre-loaded with data for e-learning

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MTN Business has partnered with the Department of Education in the Eastern Cape to enable grade 12 pupils in the province to access e-learning platforms free of charge during the nation-wide lockdown.

Like many educational institutions across the globe, South African schools remain closed amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. So far, the total number of local COVID-19 cases is 2 415, with 410 recoveries and 27 people having lost their lives to the disease.

Before announcing a nation-wide lockdown, president Cyril Ramaphosa decided that schools should be closed ahead of the scheduled first term break, to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus.

However, with the lockdown now on day 20, there is concern around the disrupted learning of pupils, especially those in matric.

MTN Business, which is MTN's enterprise business unit, is the latest organisation to offer an education solution, giving the Eastern Cape education department 72 000 SIM cards pre-loaded with mobile data.

The SIM cards, according to the company, will be used by the thousands of matric learners to access online learning platforms.

In addition to the SIM cards, MTN Business reveals it has contributed equipment, consisting of cameras, white boards and other equipment valued at R27 million, to support the 13 broadcasting studios the provincial government is setting up. The studios will be used to conduct virtual classes.

Wanda Matandela, chief enterprise officer at MTN Business, says: “The provision of these SIM cards and the ICT equipment is part of our ongoing efforts to offset the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak by ensuring we harness the power of connectivity to facilitate access to education for millions of pupils who are unable to attend school because of the nation-wide lockdown.

“This is part of our contribution to the national efforts to use digital solutions to recover lost time and stay abreast of the school curriculum.”

MTN Business did not give details on how matrics will collect the SIM cards.

Aside from providing the SIM cards, the enterprise business unit notes MTN currently offers zero-rated access to a range of Web sites, which include more than half of the 26 South African universities, education portals and Wikipedia.

It states: “Our strategy on zero-rating of educational Web sites has seen MTN South Africa together with the Department of Basic Education and the Siyavula Foundation partner to ensure grades 10, 11 and 12 learners stay on top of their curriculum material. This can be accessed using the Siyavula Web site and via the Siyavula app, available in the Google Store.”

“We acknowledge the efforts the MTN regional office and the provincial government have taken to ensure our learners are not left behind during these difficult times,” concludes Matandela.

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