The Department of Basic Education, in partnership with MTN, has launched an online school portal to address the 21st century learning needs of South Africa's children.
Launched on Thursday, the MTN Online School is a free online portal that provides a comprehensive digital curriculum for Grades R-12 and includes additional features including video lessons, assessments and extra-tuition lessons for Grades 10 to 12 learners.
The solution is aimed at closing the gap in access to quality education among the youth, and increasing access to curriculum-aligned educational content, as endorsed and provided by the Department of Basic Education for Grades R-12 and for Learners with Special Education Needs.
Delivering the keynote address at the launch, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said government's vision for the schooling sector is anchored in the National Development Plan (NDP), which recognises that "education is the cornerstone upon which a nation that provides opportunities for social mobility, equity, social justice and democracy will depend".
"The MTN Online School is a fit-for-purpose digital tool to take our basic education to the next level. The online portal is agile, innovative and modern.
"Together with the innovation and commitment to societal change by MTN, today's launch of the MTN Online School is a significant leap forward for education and ushers in positive change for communities across South Africa," Motshekga said.
MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa said digital transformation takes place within a huge information and communications technology (ICT) ecosystem, and for that ecosystem to flourish, young people must be able to access quality teaching and learning, which is essential if they are to play their part in changing the world.
"COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the urgent need in South Africa for accessible and approved online curricula and we are delighted to deliver the MTN Online School to do just that.
"Our aim is to enable the youth to access educational fundamentals to tackle the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in a manner that allows them to access future opportunities," Motsa said.
He said the launch is a product of great partnerships and shows how "together, we can do more, be more and achieve more".
"We believe in the future of South Africa and the education of the future generation, which needs to accelerate its recovery from the economic and personal devastation of COVID-19 to embrace future opportunities made available through quality education and learning.
"The MTN Online School has been developed hand-in-glove with the Department of Basic Education and we are so proud to deliver this portal that will immediate start creating value, for South Africans.
"This initiative is in line with MTN Group's overarching Ambition 2025 strategy to become Africa's leading provider of digital solutions by contributing towards society through ICT, advancing digital education, skills and jobs," he said.
MTN SA's Executive for Corporate Affairs, Jacqui O'Sullivan, said MTN is extremely excited to welcome South Africa's youth to its new e-learning portal.
"We intend to ensure it is underpinned by continuous innovation to stay at the forefront of world class education. It also exemplifies our ambition to accelerate digital transformation through building exciting, innovative and solution-oriented platform businesses in South Africa.
"MTN Online School is specifically focused on using the power of the digital world to supplement and support the physical classroom," O'Sullivan said.
To enhance and attract more learners to the virtual world at their fingertips, the portal will also focus on areas including financial skills, entrepreneurship, arts and culture, as well as career guidance content, with a focus on key careers where there are skills shortages in South Africa.
Among the key innovations, video lessons will be provided with a sign language interpreter to accommodate deaf learners.
The portal also includes an introduction to the early childhood development curriculum and African storytelling, with over 2 000 stories to equip children with good reading skills and improve confidence, enabling them to learn and read independently.