The duo's initiative is in response to the growing need for affordable online learning solutions that meet the educational needs of today's learners through a secure combination of connectivity, collaboration, communication and educational tools and resources. They also aim to take into account the need for long-term transformation of education.
According to the partnership, the Connected Digital Education Platform is an education platform that enables remote learning with affordable connectivity — ultimately turning the learning environment into a single, simple solution for the learner and giving them access to the tools, apps and resources that they need to learn.
"As a company with a purpose to connect for a better future, we are leveraging our ongoing partnership with Microsoft to provide educational institutions, from schools through to universities, with an education bundle of data at an affordable rate to participating institutions," says Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group.
"We are fundamentally accelerating digital transformation in education through online learning now and well into the future," Joosub adds.
The solution also aims to provide access to cost-effective data and educational apps and resources through Vodacom Business's Edu Data Bundle and Microsoft Office 365 Education — a cloud-based service that offers the key Microsoft apps like Teams, OneNote, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
The duo says that, with the Connected Digital Education Platform, educators are able to continue to deliver classes to their learners, who can participate through chat or voice using a SIM card where access to Teams is provided for free.
This allows them to continue learning, regardless of where they are or what device they are using. It can be an Android, iOS or Windows smartphone, tablet or laptop. The solution addresses the short-term need for online learning, while education institutions are partially closed, by giving educators and learners access to the tools and resources they need to teach and learn respectively.
According to the platform, it also addresses the long-term need to transform education and provides learners with the tools needed to equip them with technological fluency, high-level knowledge skills and an agile mindset that embraces innovation and creativity, which are skills that are needed for future employability.
"This empowers both educators and learners and enables learning to continue in a seamless manner, which is a priority for Microsoft; we aim to ensure that South African learners are equipped with the right tools and skills needed to make them future-ready," says Lillian Barnard, managing director at Microsoft South Africa.
"The ability to bring together learning into one hub or solution is invaluable and forms an important part of our commitment to building a complete education solution with critical partnerships with organisations like Vodacom Business, adds Barnard.
Vodacom Business and Microsoft have indicated that they are committed to supporting the digitisation of education in South Africa and believe that, through investing in education, they are investing in the long-term economic growth and prosperity of the country.
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