Three South African schools namely – Khwezi Lomso Comprehensive School and Ndzondelelo High School in Gqeberha (formally known as Port Elizabeth) and Le Reng Secondary School in Ladybrand, – will receive internet data, tablets, food parcels and other COVID-19 relief items, thanks to a collaboration between Amdocs (Amdocs.com), a leading software and services provider to the communications and media industry, and Telkom Foundation, the autonomous social investment arm of South Africa’s 39% state-owned telecommunications provider, Telkom.
The two organisations joined hands to assist learners in two of South Africa’s most disadvantaged communities where the COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of disruption to students’ education.
The initiative is aimed at encouraging learners to keep up with their schooling in the current difficult circumstances, which have led to many of them being between 75% and one year behind where they should be, according to a snap survey by the 2021 National Income Dynamics Study, Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey, Wave 5 and the Department of Basic Education.
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 the 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.”
We wanted to promote digital inclusion because we believe remote or hybrid learning will continue for some time – in some instances becoming the norm
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 adds.
In addition to promoting digital inclusion measures, Amdocs will provide humanitarian help to hard-hit communities in the form of food and other basic supplies, as well as paying school fees for some of the children who cannot afford to do so.
Telkom Foundation will, in turn, partner with two additional foundations – Zifundiseni ICT Foundation and Thlali Nthlajana Foundation – to ensure the assistance gets to the identified schools and learners.
This is one of many education and learner support projects Telkom Foundation helps to facilitate in collaboration with the government, the private sector and education institutions. Other examples include the Connected Schools Programme, Rally to Read, the Future of the African Daughter (FOTAD) and Ikateleng projects.
Amdocs Vice President Africa, George Fraser, says the initiative forms part of Amdocs’ global efforts to support the communities it operates in. “We have also instituted various programmes in Kenya, India, Mexico and Israel, and are looking to extend our efforts further afield in Africa and other continents.”
Telkom Foundation Puso Waga Monese (CSI Specialist) says while COVID-19 may not have the same health implications for children as it does on adults, it causes other untold damage. “Not only do they 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 concludes.