Untangling connectivity issues for an effective remote education
While the reality of schooling has changed because of Covid-19 and its associated lockdown challenges, society needs to address two significant issues to ensure that current and future schooling efforts are effective: the significant cost of bandwidth and the issue of the user device.
This is according to Riaan Vlok, head of IT at Curro Holdings. Vlok was speaking at the virtual VMWorld 2020 Sub-Saharan Africa Press briefing that took place on the 30 September. The press briefing was part of the VMWorld annual event.
“We can't get the children and parents to consume education without those issues resolved,” said Vlok, IT head at South Africa’s largest independent education provider, which has over 178 schools across 70 sites. Established in 1998, Curro develops, acquires and manages independent schools for learners from three months to Grade 12.
Curro partnered with First Technology Western Cape and VMware to transform its technology infrastructure, enabling it to deliver a truly digital education experience across geographies, endpoints, learners, parents and educators.
At VMWorld 2020, VMWare emphasised its commitment to deliver a range of solutions and services to help customers survive and thrive in the most turbulent market in generations.
VMware’s cloud, app modernization, networking, security and digital workspace platforms form a flexible, consistent digital foundation on which to build, run, manage, connect and protect applications, anywhere.
Key to consuming education effectively
“In Africa, we still face bandwidth issues. Our new infrastructure lessens the reliance on bandwidth, delivering a reliable in cloud, on-premises offering, stretching across both,”Vlok said.
He added that in general, when Covid-19 struck, lockdown instituted and learning went remote, parents discovered that they were not the teachers they thought they were, and teachers realised that parents don't know what happened in a classroom, creating a gap.
From an IT perspective, it also emerged that educational solutions were not being developed from the child's perspective, yet they were expected to be able to use these solutions to consumer education, he said.
“Finding this out has changed the approach, and people in the education world had to make an enormous jump to accommodate the change,” Vlok said. The challenge was that the learners needed to be able to able to consume education at home, at school, on the bus or anywhere really, and that was easier said than done.
Vlok said the challenge of decluttering the cost of bandwidth is not a just relevant to African education systems. This problem is just as relevant in the United States as it is in Namibia. “Zero-rating is not enough. We need to sort out the last mile,” he said.
As for the issue of the user device, there is also a growing trend of “bring your own device” which also comes into play. The challenge is whether the device is fit for the intended purpose.
“We can't get children and parenbts tp consume education with those issues unresolved, at almost zero-cost. Once the challenges are addressed, we can scale up education efficiently,” he said.