The use of the internet in teaching and learning at South Africa’s public TVET colleges

For many of the public Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges across South Africa, bandwidth poverty has obstructed the use of the internet for teaching and learning purposes in the past. During 2020-2021, the South African Broadband Education Networks (SABEN) rolled out 200 Mbps fibre connections to the campuses/sites of the TVET colleges, boosting their capacity to use the internet for teaching and learning. The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 created an unforeseen urgency for colleges to employ the internet for teaching and learning as colleges were faced with the constraints of lockdown and social distancing. Most of the colleges responded by fast-tracking existing plans and putting ad hoc arrangements in place to manage the transition to e-learning. In late 2020, SABEN commissioned a study to investigate the perspectives and experiences of key staff members at the 50 TVET colleges with regard to using the internet in teaching and learning; the challenges, initiatives and innovations that have arisen; and their vision for how e-learning could or should be developed. The aims of the study were to inform SABEN’s strategy going forward and to share current knowledge, insights and recommendations about the use of the internet for teaching and learning at the colleges with stakeholders across the TVET sector. This report on the study has been prepared for public dissemination.

To download the report please click the following link:
The use of the internet in teaching and learning at South Africa’s public TVET colleges.pdf

TCCP goes live at False Bay College

First TVET benefits from high-speed Internet access provided by the TVET Campus Connection Programme

The TVET Campus Connection Programme (TCCP) is providing access connectivity of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges to South African National Research and Education Network (SANReN) backbone. This connectivity will provide 200Mbps upload and download speeds with no data shaping or limitation.

SABEN is excited to announce that False Bay College’s Fish Hoek campus is the first TVET College campus to go live on 17 June 2020. The campus was originally planned to go live with their new connection in March 2020, but the COVID-19 lockdown was announced and all work had to be halted. The project started to gain momentum again in May 2020 and after weeks of technical challenges, including equipment swap out, with input from vendors, the College’s technical team and the TCCP team, the testing results were successful and the site could go live with their new link.

Shaun Pieterse, IT Manager from False Bay College says “Our experience with SABEN so far was brilliant. Even though there were a few technical hiccups at the beginning, their highly experienced technical team sorted it out in no time. We are looking forward to working with them in future and to get our other three campuses on the new infrastructure too.”

The provision of SANReN access to TVET colleges and their component campuses will facilitate access to comprehensive information, research and educational resources, to help these institutions manage their current capacity shortfalls more effectively. The project will give invaluable support to learners through Internet access and knowledge resources that they need to study and graduate, empowering them to develop and hone the increasingly important skills that are required in the job market.

Currently, the TCCP team are planning to roll out access connections to the following TVET Colleges during the third quarter of 2020 and preparations are underway: West Coast TVET College, Eastcape Midlands TVET College, South Cape TVET College, Buffalo City TVET College, Lovedale TVET College, Majuba TVET College, Capricorn TVET College, Ehlanzeni TVET College, Lephalale TVET College, Letaba TVET College, Nkangala TVET College, Waterberg TVET College, South West Gauteng TVET College, Tshwane South TVET College, Flavius Mareka TVET College, Goldfields TVET College, Sedibeng TVET College and Vuselela TVET College.

Teraco grant to support SABEN rolling out TVET Campus Connectivity Project

A grant by the Teraco Connect Foundation helps support the roll-out of the NSF-funded TVET Campus Connectivity Project (TCCP)

Teraco, Africa’s largest vendor-neutral data centre provider, has announced a support grant valued at R7.5m to the South African Broadband Education Networks (SABEN) via the Teraco Connect Foundation. Over the next five years, Teraco will partner with SABEN to support the national drive to end bandwidth poverty among South Africa’s schools and public TVET colleges.

Jan Hnizdo, CEO of Teraco, says that the grant will help to facilitate the changing landscape of education in South Africa. Digital infrastructure initiatives, including remote learning and educational streaming will become more efficient and easier to implement: “The Teraco Connect Foundation sees the grant as an investment in the future of this country at a time when all sectors are facing significant challenges. As a leading data centre infrastructure provider, we are proud to invest in education, one of the most important cornerstones to secure the future growth and development of South Africa,” says Hnizdo.

SABEN is a subsidiary of TENET and serves the public Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector in South Africa. It is purpose-built to solve the digital requirements of this sector. Hnizdo says that the Teraco Connect Foundation grant will not only enable these educational institutions to access content directly and grow their collective digital strategy, but will also assist in laying essential foundations for future digital remote learning strategies: “To enable digital transformation, SABEN’s need for direct access to a rich ecosystem of content and cloud providers can be realised, enabling efficient connections to education cloud services, streaming, and remote learning possibilities.”

Helga van Wyk, the Project Lead of the TVET Campus Connectivity Project, an initiative funded by the National Skills Fund, says the Teraco Connect Foundation grant enables SABEN to solve their digital requirements: “We are now better equipped to improve the transformative potential of each institution in this rapidly evolving digital age with Teraco’s generous support. The preparedness of all colleges is a top priority and SABEN needs to be able to support this digital transformation adequately.”

Technically, the grant provides SABEN a physical presence in Teraco data centres located in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg and gives colleges direct network access to Platform Teraco, where the institutions will benefit from highly secure and direct interconnection to Africa’s largest digital ecosystem. Platform Teraco allows for the configuration of scalable interconnections to all the major cloud onramps, 250 network providers (including carriers, terrestrial fibre, satellite connectivity and submarine cables), 50 global content providers, 130 IT service providers, 130 enterprises and financial services providers and access to several Internet eXchange Points (IXPs) at NAPAfrica and INX-ZA.

Garth Scholtz, SABEN general manager, says there has been a renewed focus on post-school education, in particular the TVETs, which over the past three years has also become an increasing priority for Government: “It is thus vital for SABEN to do all we can to support all endeavours and to put systems and structures in place to level the playing field for all South Africans. Collaboration with industry is key, and the grant from Teraco will greatly assist us in meeting the evolving digital requirements of all the institutions.”

He says that South Africa’s skills shortage cannot be addressed unless our education system produces a labour force with the right skills to meet the industry’s demand. Additionally, Scholtz believes that poverty and inequality can never be genuinely eliminated unless the next generation of previously disadvantaged citizens are economically empowered: “It is here that the role of all of these educational institutions will play a significant role and as SABEN, we need to ensure that this journey is not only just supported but enabled.”

Story supplied by Teraco Connect Foundation