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Digital technologies underpin the future of education

Digital technologies and the cloud are becoming a permanent and increasingly important component of education.

Johannesburg, 12 Jul 2021
Read time 4min 00sec

This is according to AWS Senior Account Manager, Agnat Max Makgoale, who says a recent AWS white paper on Emerging Trends in the New World of Education underlines that digital education is here to stay. However, according to the Brookings Institution, less than 25% of low-income countries provide any type of remote learning and only 36% of residents of lower-middle income countries have access to the internet.

“Reliable, affordable connectivity is the first step, and educational institutions will also have to design their teaching models and curricula with inclusion in mind, if we are to bridge this digital divide,” he says.

Makgoale notes that AWS has long sought to support educators and learners with the resources they need to accelerate digital learning.

These include Amazon AppStream 2.0 – a fully managed application streaming service, Amazon WorkSpaces – a managed, secure desktop as a service (DaaS) solution to provision and scale desktops to thousands of users wherever they are.

“Digital technologies do more than enable remote learning,” notes Makgoale “They also support governments and educators in bridging divides and ensuring that all schools receive the resources they need to deliver quality education.”

An example of this is GovChat built on AWS, which worked with the Department of Social Development and the Nelson Mandela Foundation to launch a programme called Vangasali (meaning 'no one left behind' in Xitsonga.) This programme aims to ensure that early childhood development (ECD) facilities in South Africa are properly supported by government. Through GovChat, ECD facilities can be recorded and mapped, which will assist in determining the coverage of ECD services, particularly in poor and vulnerable communities.

GovChat, together with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), also launched a school-readiness polling feature for parents, pupils and teachers, as South African schools start opening up for contact learning. “Data-driven decision-making is what will help, and as GovChat, we are trying to do our part,” said Eldrid Jordaan, chief executive officer of GovChat.

“In addition to using digital technologies to deliver enhanced learning and bridge the divide, it is important to bring education about digital technologies into the classroom, to develop a digitally competent future workforce,” says Makgoale.

AWS supports skills development to grow global ICT skills – particularly in cloud technologies. AWS Educate is Amazon’s global initiative to provide students and educators with the resources needed to accelerate cloud-related learning, providing an academic gateway for the next generation of IT and cloud professionals. AWS Educate is used in more than 200 countries and territories. It connects 2 400 institutions, over 10 000 educators and hundreds of thousands of students.

AWS is focused on expanding impact in cloud skills and technology education across Africa, and is working with education institutions in South Africa, such as the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University, to help train the next generation of cloud professionals through AWS Educate. Another programme for higher education institutes is AWS Academy, which provides AWS-authorised courses for students to acquire in-demand cloud computing skills. The programme has already attracted the country’s major academic institutions, including the University of Cape Town, University of Johannesburg, and Durban University of Technology. AWS Training and Certification programmes are available to customers to help them in their cloud journeys and have grown our regional training team, bringing the programmes even closer to customers.

Another AWS initiative, GirlCode, strives to alleviate South Africa’s high unemployment rate through targeted technology skills and capacitation initiatives, including a GirlCoder Club, workshops and a small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME) accelerator. They facilitate collaboration between women from diverse backgrounds in creating innovative and sustainable solutions that improve the lives of South African youths.

AWS, in partnership with ITWeb, will host a webinar on cloud technologies facilitating online learning on Thursday, 22 July 2021 and will include a keynote by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Buti Manamela. This webinar will explore how digital tools can be highly complementary to face-to-face learning for a hybrid learning environment; how to effectively deliver remote teaching and learning, while lowering costs to achieve your institutional outcomes; and how institutions and organisations can scale to meet demand from students, faculty and staff for a virtual learning environment.

For more information and to register for this event, click here.

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