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The DBE_and_Vodacom_dignataries_at_the_Thaba_Nchu_launchDBE and Vodacom officials at the Thaba Nchu centre launch 2 July 2013 - Vodacom, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, unveiled its ninth information and communication technology (ICT) resource centre in Thaba Nchu, Free State today. The programme is set to transform teaching and learning in the classroom through the use of technology.

The centre, which is part of Vodacom's Mobile Education Programme, is expected to train 120 teachers from 30 schools annually in the Free State region. Teachers will be trained in the basic use of technology and will have access to curriculum content and teaching aids through cloud computing, which is an Internet based warehouse of educational content.

"This initiative focuses on teacher development, one of the most critical elements in the education value chain. This programme offers a model whereby South Africa can advance in the area of education through the effective use of communications technology," says Maya Makanjee, Chief Officer: Corporate Affairs at Vodacom, and Chairman of the Vodacom Foundation.

Launched in October 2011, the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme was developed to help the Department of Basic Education meet its goal of exposing learners to ICT and to give teachers access to quality teaching resources.

"The Programme not only levels the playing field for disadvantaged schools that often don't have the same quality of teaching material that urban areas have, but it also ensures that communities have access to ICT and the Internet. This is especially exciting for us because it mirrors our commitment to ensuring that Vodacom puts the power of the Internet into everyone's hands," says Makanjee.

The centre is connected to Vodacom's head office in Midrand through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This serves as a pipeline for information that connects and delivers content to participating schools and teachers. It provides a platform for creating a community of teachers who can communicate to share ideas and resources.

The schools, buildings and teachers have been identified by the Free State Department of Education while all the technology elements are supplied by Vodacom.

The Thaba Nchu centre has been fully equipped with a computer room housing 50 computer terminals, educational aids, Internet connectivity and training facilities. The community of Thaba Nchu will also have access to the centre and will be able to use the Internet and make use of e-learning courses free of charge.

Vodacom has committed to supply content hosting and free Internet connectivity for the next three years. Connectivity includes the establishment of a controlled gateway to the Internet for each province. This will allow for easy communication among the teachers.

Leading e-learning service providers, Microsoft, Cisco and Mindset, have partnered with Vodacom to provide the centres with software, programme content, certification and training, and educational curriculum content. These digital educational resources are hosted on the Digital Classroom under My Resources.

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