IMPROVING ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA SCHOOLS
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN RURAL SCHOOLS WITH THE C3 MICRO-CLOUD
The Republic of South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa, with over 60 million people. It is known for its wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions.
In South Africa, there are 12.7 million learners in 30,000 schools – 26,000 of these are public. Schooling is compulsory from grade 1 to grade 9 – school starts for the children in the year they turn seven and they have to attend school until they turn 15.
Despite all the progress made in the last decades, the country still struggles to ensure equality in education. While some schools are well resourced, using technology and state-of-art learning methods in their classrooms, in rural areas, some schools still suffer from poor
infrastructure, compromising the quality of education available for learners. Lack of teachers and updated books are problems frequently reported by learners. Also, although internet access is becoming more common in public schools, the use of the internet in the classroom is very limited to be used by the teacher in most provinces in the country due to high costs and a lack of proper infrastructure.
In order to minimize this inequality, the South African government reviewed and reformed how the education budget was distributed with the purpose of achieving quality education for all. This measure had a very relevant impact, especially in rural schools where conditions were more precarious and where greater inequality was felt.
Aware of the fact that technology is indeed a powerful tool that can transform education in many ways, digital learning equipment – such as whiteboards, laptops, and tablets, were distributed in the schools in order to modernize the teaching methods and to guarantee the right to quality and world-class education to all the students. Also, 3,000 C3 Micro-Clouds were sent to South African schools, providing students and teachers with a better learning experience.
In connected environments, the C3 Micro-Cloud provides immediate high-speed access to both content and applications that are cached on the micro-cloud, reducing the need for constant downloads from the web while guaranteeing quick access to all the educational content. Integrated technology such as intelligent caching, and bandwidth management improves network efficiency, reduces bandwidth consumption, and improves the internet speed overall. Thus, students and teachers can access videos, learning games, and applications at the same time, without the speed or quality of the learning experience being compromised.
Even in non-connected environments, students and teachers can connect via Wi-Fi to the local micro-cloud and have access to a complete cloud-based learning environment. If content such as texts, subject media, guides, tests, learning applications, and other resources are cached on the micro-cloud, they are always available regardless of ‘upstream’ network connectivity. The content repository can be updated via USB key whenever the school system administrators release new versions or updates.
This means that even in schools without any internet connection, it is possible for students to have access to up-to-date digital textbooks, interactive educational games, e-books, well-known educational content such as Khan Academy, pHet Education, or even YouTube videos.
With this solution, students can also navigate internet sites/content safely, without straining resources. The Active Directory integration enables policy-based management whitelisting, and bandwidth optimization/allocation, in addition to firewall security.
The C3 Micro-Cloud also has a battery backup which means students can learn without interruption, even when power is unstable or non-existent for a period of time.
Teachers are now able to prepare lessons without worrying about possible constraints caused by internet speed, thus making the most of the technological resources at their disposal in the classroom.