South African tertiary education institutions, Wits University and University of Jo’Burg have informed their students that they will be able to access free data to continue learning online.
Wits and University of Jo’Burg students will get 30GB of free data
Wits University is pleased to announce that you can now access 30GB of data (10GB Anytime & 20GB at night) if you are registered with any of the four networks – MTN, Vodacom, Cell C or Telkom. This service is at no cost to students. The offer is valid for one month starting on 20 April 2020, and should be used wisely for online learning and educational purposes.Wits University statement
We are aware of the challenges, the inequities of access as well as the anxiety and uncertainty caused by this mode of teaching and learning. As a university, we are committed to closing these gaps to the best of our abilityUJ statement
Students using MTN, Cell-C, Vodacom and Telkom will be able to redeem the data.
Across the border…
Locally, there have been questions regarding how schools and universities will ensure students continue learning with one of the biggest issues simply being the high cost of entry for students who will need a smartphone or a laptop along with data to actually go online and access the tools they need for learning.
Zimbabwe’s National Students Union came out and pushed back against government’s rhetoric urging students to utilise eLearning platforms. From their perspective there has been no preparation to utilise these platforms and thus too many students would be excluded from education.
On the surface it might be fair to assume that neither the government nor the learning institutions themselves can afford to do what has been done in South Africa and equip students with data to continue learning.
Another question that still needs to be asked is, if the universities can somehow capacitate students to learn online, is their content modelled for these platforms that students will now be making use of? Or is half a loaf better than nothing and the less ideal path still one they should take.
These are all difficult questions but the longer this crisis continues, these questions will eventually need to be answered.