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Free e-learning SIM cards for Eastern Cape matrics

The provincial education department has partnered with MTN on the initiative.
The provincial education department has partnered with MTN on the initiative.
Image: 123RF/Andriy Popov

All current Eastern Cape matrics will be issued with SIM cards that will enable them to access curriculum-related e-learning content on any platform for free.

DispatchLIVE  can exclusively reveal that the provincial education department has partnered with MTN on the initiative, which is aimed at keeping this year's matrics up to date with their work despite the national coronavirus lockdown.  

With only 36 days to go to the June matric exams, the  department has not lost sight of its goal to improve on the 2019 matric pass rate of 76.5%.

Confirming the initiative on Monday, provincial education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani told DispatchLIVE that virtual classes for Grade 12s began earlier this month. Lessons have  been broadcast on community radio stations and the SABC.

Pupils have been instructed to live-stream lessons by downloading a free, open source cross-platform multimedia player, VLC, to their smartphones.

Pulumani said: “Our initial focus since lockdown was on ensuring that we resume learning and teaching, especially for the FET band [grades 10 to 12] and Grade 12s through virtual classes. These classes are accessible through smartphones, tablets and laptops.

“Those lessons are complemented with additional radio lessons carried on 18 community radios throughout the width and breadth of our province.”

He said the department was also making content available and subject workbooks on its website and on e-learning platforms.

“We are finalising an agreement with MTN whereby all Grade 12 learners will receive SIM cards to access all education related e-learning content on any platform for free. We are running a comprehensive advocacy initiative through print and radio mediums to highlight all of these available areas to both learners and parents.”

At the weekend there were reports that there were moves to cut some “non-core” sections of the 2020 school curriculum to make up for lost learning time.  

But these reports were dismissed by Pulumani.

“That report is only speculation. No decision yet has been made by the two top structures of the department of basic education,” he said.

National education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga also rejected the reports.

"False, there is no such thing,” Mhlanga said.

Educational specialist Mary Metcalfe said teachers would need support in implementing education plans relative to the needs of pupils.

In a video shared by the provincial department, MEC Fundile Gade called on pupils to use the lockdown period to study on their own and not take it as a holiday.

“The department offers lessons streaming and online text-based learning materials to learners during the national lockdown period on digital platforms. This will aid learners to keep up to date with schoolwork and ensure they are ready to participate in informal assessments upon their return to school and be able to complete the 2020 school year.”

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