Vodacom Business has been appointed by the University of South Africa (UNISA) with immediate effect to provide future-ready digital solutions to students and staff of the institution as part of a two-year contract. These solutions will give UNISA students and staff free and reliable access to essential online resources and tools to ensure that quality distance learning is a reality.
“This partnership is a continuation of the important work Vodacom Business has been doing to shape a future-proof education sector,” says Poppy Tshabalala, Managing Executive of Public Enterprise for Vodacom Business. “In 2020, we successfully joined forces with several higher-education institutions to ensure their students and staff has the data and digital tools necessary to continue online learning during the period when teaching and learning in physical buildings was impossible.”
While this addressed an immediate need to digitise education in the face of COVID-19 lockdowns, such partnerships have tackled a longer-term need to transform the education sector for a digital-first future. “Students empowered by our digital solutions can continue their learning, unimpeded, from wherever they are, while sharpening their digital literacy,” adds Tshabalala. “This sets them up for success as meaningful contributors to a technologically advanced future.”
The first solution being implemented at UNISA is Reverse Billed Data (RBD) by Vodacom Business. Through RBD, UNISA will be able to offer students free access to its website, online content, apps, and data services. This means, irrespective of their own personal airtime or data balance, students and staff will always be able to access these digital resources, while UNISA only pays for relevant usage. This is an innovative pricing model that gives users access to data paid for by the institution.
The second solution UNISA will benefit from is the Connected Digital Education Platform, developed by Vodacom Business and Microsoft South Africa. Through this platform, UNISA’s students and staff will have free access to several Microsoft Office 365 virtual communication and collaboration tools, like Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Office. Additionally, lecturers can access the platform’s planning software to prepare lessons and content ahead of time and automate admin-intensive tasks. This further enriches the teaching and learning being delivered.
The platform solution also covers any additional data needs aside from those addressed through the Reverse Billed Data solution. This is done through the Vodacom Business EduBundle that gives free access to educational websites specified by UNISA, and through Vodacom Business Anytime Data Bundles for access to any other online resource using a subsidised 30-day 10GB data bundle with a 20GB Night Owl allocation.
“Our digital solutions enrich the distance-learning experience, making it affordable for students and staff alike, while equipping them with the tools needed to effectively teach and learn online,” notes Tshabalala. “Partnerships like this will play a key role in improving connectivity in the education sector, democratising access to quality education. Additionally, with quality education and digital literacy as the cornerstones of a future-ready nation, these partnerships are essential to our country’s future economic prosperity. Vodacom Business is proud to be playing its part in this important ecosystem.”