October 31, 2023
The South African Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges have just received a game-changing upgrade in their broadband capabilities! Thanks to the efforts of the South African Broadband Education Networks (SABEN), these colleges now enjoy lightning-fast internet speeds, going from 10Mbps to a whopping 200Mbps. This remarkable transformation has been made possible through the deployment of FortiGate devices from NEC XON, all orchestrated by SABEN, a non-profit organization dedicated to meeting the digital requirements of schools and TVET sectors across South Africa. With remote learning becoming essential during the pandemic era, this enhancement couldn’t have come at a better time. SABEN has successfully connected and upgraded over 90% of TVET college campuses, with plans to link up every remaining campus by year-end. Get ready as we dive deeper into this groundbreaking achievement!
South African Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges have received a significant broadband enhancement. The South African Broadband Education Networks (SABEN), a non-profit organization, has upgraded the colleges’ bandwidth from 10Mbps to 200Mbps using FortiGate devices from NEC XON.
SABEN focuses on serving school networks and the TVET sectors in South Africa, addressing their digital requirements and eliminating bandwidth scarcity in schools and public TVET colleges across the country. The necessity for improved broadband became even more apparent with the onset of the pandemic, as remote learning became a necessity due to social distancing measures.
SABEN has successfully connected and upgraded 256 out of 283 TVET college campuses from 48 TVET colleges to the South African National Research and Education Network (SANREN). They have plans to connect the remaining campuses by the end of the year.
Dr. Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, expressed concern over internet connectivity issues and the slow access to learning devices, highlighting the challenges faced by tertiary students during the pandemic. Many students also found online learning to be less effective due to limited online resources and lecture software.
Helga Watkin, the project lead at SABEN, emphasized the critical importance of high-speed internet connectivity for teaching and learning. The broadband rollout has not only provided colleges with increased bandwidth but has also resulted in significant cost savings, especially for institutions that serve marginalized communities.
SABEN secured grant funds from the National Skills Fund via the Department of Higher Education and Training to provide broadband connections and campus WiFi-based internet access, routed through SANREN, managed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. SABEN also offers maintenance, support services, and additional services like learning management systems, voice over IP, and video conferencing.
TVET colleges benefit from a much lower monthly connectivity fee compared to commercial providers. The FortiGate 100E series appliances are the foundation of this solution, offering secure SD-WAN with next-generation firewall capabilities. These appliances are deployed at campus or enterprise branches, featuring system-on-a-chip acceleration to safeguard against cyber threats.
Standardization on these appliances across the network simplifies support and future-proofs the infrastructure for expansion. The next-generation firewall capabilities reduce complexity and maximize return on investment with integrated threat protection.
This broadband upgrade has significantly improved access to learning for colleges and students, particularly those in rural areas. It has enhanced operational efficiency, reduced technology-related disruptions, provided adequate bandwidth for lecturers, and expanded access to learning materials. Ultimately, it contributes to reversing the negative effects of bandwidth limitations, aligning with the goal of supporting socio-economic growth through improved education and learning development.
In today’s digital age, reliable and high-speed internet connectivity is essential for education institutions to provide effective teaching and learning. Thanks to the efforts of SABEN, South African TVET colleges have received a significant broadband upgrade that has greatly improved access to learning for both students and lecturers. The deployment of FortiGate devices from NEC XON has not only increased bandwidth but also enhanced security against cyber threats. This project showcases the importance of collaboration between government organizations, non-profits, and technology providers in addressing critical issues such as limited internet connectivity in marginalized communities. With this broadband enhancement, TVET colleges are better equipped to support socio-economic growth through quality education and learning development.
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