Broadband connectivity at 50 TVET colleges nationwide

New TCCP project prioritises access in Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges
Broadband connectivity at 50 TVET colleges nationwide
Thabang Chabalala / Photo credit: Mateboho Green

Fifty Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges across the country will shortly be receiving high-speed, broadband connectivity as part of government’s renewed commitment to producing a skilled and capable workforce to help forge a national knowledge economy.

Increased support for TVET colleges was prioritised by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his state-of-the-nation address in February 2019. Policymakers have also noted that the quality of the educational inputs for TVET colleges and SETA-supported learning programmes must be improved, with a particular focus on tailoring courses to learner and employer needs. The analysis of big-data sets made possible through broadband connectivity can inform this process, while simultaneously enabling the establishment of better data-management systems at TVETs.

The project will connect TVET college campuses to the SANReN national backbone. It is being implemented by the South African Broadband Educational Networks (SABEN) under the auspices of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), with grant funding from the National Skills Fund (NSF).

“SABEN is rolling out the first three sites in February 2020,” says Helga van Wyk, Project Leader at TENET. “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 will allow them the opportunity to acquire and build the skills needed when they enter the workplace.”

As part of the project, TENET and SABEN are engaging directly with each of the 50 public TVET colleges regarding the specific connections appropriate for each of their component campuses, in order to ensure appropriate connections at all the 325 component campuses within two years.

Benefits of the TVET rollout

The provision of SANReN access to TVET colleges and their component campuses will facilitate access to comprehensive information, research and educational resources, to help these institutions manage their current capacity shortfalls more effectively. The project will give invaluable support to learners through Internet access and knowledge resources that they need to study and graduate, empowering them to develop and hone the increasingly important skills that are required in the job market.

In addition, the rollout 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 in meeting the demands of the ever-evolving workplace. 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 at TVET colleges, where such materials may be at a premium.

The improved connectivity offered by SABEN will also help TVET administrators to 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 programmes and data that can support them in their management and planning efforts.

About the SANReN national backbone

TENET operates the SANReN network, providing the South African higher education and research community with Internet connectivity and value-added services. This national network currently connects over 350 sites – campuses and offices – across all nine provinces. It is a purpose-built network that provides high-speed connectivity to its users and is designed to meet the needs of the most demanding Internet users in the country: scientists, teachers, academics and researchers.

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 on the network.

The South African Broadband Educational Networks (SABEN), a wholly-owned subsidiary of TENET, was established to manage the TVET connections to SANReN.