The ongoing COVID pandemic has revealed glaring shortages and accessibility issues in the education system around the world, forcing governments and the private sector to collaborate and jointly invest in technology to address these challenges. However, the digital divide in education has been an ever-present challenge in many parts of the world, particularly in underdeveloped countries where broadband infrastructure and internet access are critical to closing this divide.
According to a study by Cable.co.uk, 6 out of 10 countries with the most expensive mobile data prices are in sub-Saharan Africa, with South Africa ranking 136th out of 230 countries that were measured in the study. While data costs have reduced in South Africa, affordability, digital literacy, and access to internet-enabled devices continue to be a challenge in the country.
Compounding the issue of access is the plight of teacher shortages in both schools and universities, where 45% of teachers in South Africa are expected to retire in the coming decade.
As more schools adapt to digitally-integrated systems, schools in rural areas continue to be left behind, putting available teachers under pressure to transform the learning environment with little-to-no funding.
In a joint effort to improve the classroom experience in rural schools in South Africa, the Eastern Cape Department of Education and Vodacom entered into a public-private partnership to establish a proof of concept (P.O.C) using Niflink’s technology platform.
The Niflink team was tasked with delivering and installing a Virtual Teacher Solution at various Teacher’s Centers and Schools of Excellence across South Africa. The project included building stands and implementing the designated devices and related cabling to make on-site delivery and installation easy.
Through Niflink’s digital whiteboards, virtual classroom broadcasting technology and school management systems designed for distance learning, lessons were livestreamed to 1,280 learners in 18 remote schools across 4 towns, thus giving students access to teachers at a critical time as they prepared for final examinations.
“At our school, we only have 3 teachers of Maths who are teaching the whole school, so it can be frustrating for them and for ourselves also. Having [Niflink’s Teach solution] is helpful to us ’cause now we get to have access to a variety of teachers outside our own communities.” – School Pupil.
“We’ve got quite a huge challenge in terms of maths and science teachers, so this particular incentive will be able to assist us in that regard, to make sure that the learners have got access to the teaching.”- Mr Themba Kojana, Head of Department at the Eastern Cape Department of Education.
Following the success of the P.O.C, Niflnk’s partnership with Vodacom led to the launch of the first fully mobile streaming box, allowing teachers to broadcast their lessons anywhere in the world for the first time. Additionally, Vodacom’s foundation project continued to pilot Niflink’s e-learning solutions in 84 Teacher’s Centers and 12 Schools of Excellence.
The Niflink Teach e-learning platform and data compression technology solved both cost and accessibility issues for remote and budget-restricted schools thanks to its collaborative partnership with the Eastern Cape Department of Education and Vodacom. Without the need for the latest smartphones or devices, the solution was designed to be compatible with entry-level smartphones, 2G and 3G connectivity.
The live broadcasting technology is one of the most important components of the overall solution, as it uses the company’s proprietary NIF data compression technology to shrink educational media and live streams to deliver a faster, more efficient data flow, and compresses files by up to 90% to boost online education initiatives.
To date, Niflink has remained steadfast on its mission to connect communities to critical data, by partnering with academic institutions and network providers to develop efficient and creative pathways that improve learning outcomes for schools in South Africa and beyond.
We offer education technology that goes the distance, with our Niflink Teach end-to-end solutions designed to connect any classroom or learning environment through our proprietary NIF data compression technology. Our inclusive, smart education platform can be customised to your needs, no matter where you are in your e-learning journey.
Learn more about Niflink Teach here.