South Africa’s vocational education goes Industry 4.0

Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in South Africa takes a major leap forward as colleges across the country receive high-speed, broadband connectivity.

The TVET Campus Connection Project (TCCP) connects the campuses of 47 TVET colleges to the South African National Research and Education Network (SANReN) backbone operated by the Tertiary Education and Network of South Africa (TENET).

“The project gives invaluable support to learners through Internet access and knowledge resources that they need to study and graduate. Disruptive technologies and trends such as IoT, robotics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence are changing the way in which we live. The connectivity provided by the TVET project is an enabler for learners and allow them the opportunity to acquire and build the skills needed when they enter the workplace,” says Helga van Wyk, Project Lead at TENET.

The project is in line with the state-of-the-nation address by President Cyril Ramaphosa in February 2019, prioritizing increased support for TVET colleges.

284 TVET campuses

The TVET connections to SANReN are managed by the South African Broadband Educational Networks (SABEN), a wholly-owned subsidiary of TENET. SABEN implements the project under the auspices of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), with grant funding from the National Skills Fund (NSF).

The SANReN backbone caters for large data transfers and collaboration between users and the international research, teaching and learning community; and is engineered to support high-quality services that remain consistent regardless of the number of users online. SANReN already connects over 350 academic sites covering all provinces in South Africa.

The 47 TVET colleges involved in the project all have several component campuses – 284 in total. As part of the project, SABEN is engaging directly with each TVET college regarding the specific connections appropriate for their component campuses. The roll-out has been delayed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

“Still, we have 21 campuses live on the network already, and are steaming ahead. We expect to ensure appropriate connections to all component campuses of the 47 colleges within two years,” says Helga van Wyk.

Improved quality of teaching

Not only the TVET students benefit.

“The roll-out will provide TVET lecturers and facilitators with the research and teaching materials that they require to improve their educational offerings to guide learners and apprentices. For example, easier access to teaching information, research and training resources can significantly improve the quality of the education received, particularly in a financially constrained environment such as TVET colleges where such materials may be at a premium,” says Helga van Wyk.

“Further, the improved connectivity offered by SABEN will help TVET administrators manage their institutions more effectively by increasing their capacity to administer on a day-to-day basis and for the future; and by easing their access to a full range of programs and data.”

Published: 12/2020

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