By TRISTAN COOKE
Local company Khula Tech Solutions has introduced Wi-Fi into 22 schools in Makhanda, with 16 installations in 2021.
Nicci Hayes, Makhanda Circle of Unity Education Cluster chair, said, “People have been trying for so long to make a breakthrough in internet connectivity at our schools. And here it is.”
“Khula Tech has just walked into the space most amazingly and creatively to solve this long-standing issue,” she added.
Khula Tech’s Khaya Tantsi is on a mission: “I think we could have had more if it was not for COVID.”
Tantsi said his vision would be to have every single school in the Eastern Cape on Wi-Fi if he could. “And, I mean, we do this for free; we don’t claim back VAT.”
“Just because you are in the township, it shouldn’t be an excuse that you can’t get this technology. It shouldn’t be something that you have to wait for the government to do for you. Let’s do it!” he said.
“I worked at Rhodes so seeing kids coming from townships and rural areas, where they are distinction students, but when they come to Rhodes, different story.”
“You start now having to use a laptop PC to research. In a textbook where everything is here, you can get 100 percent. But now, suddenly, you have to start referencing 20 other guys on a subject. It’s a whole different monster for a kid who’s never used a computer.”
“A school is a central place where kids are all there at the same time and where everyone is equal – it doesn’t matter whether or not you have the internet at home. School is school, and we are all on the same path.”
Khula Tech has partnered with the Click Foundation, which supplies tablets and training. “They’ve got teaching schemes that they do at the schools. About eight local schools with them, and we are currently working on more throughout the Eastern Cape right now.”
The Wi-Fi installed in schools whitelist certain websites, while social media and streaming platforms are blocked. Learners can access Google, over 10 000 zero-rated government websites, Khan Academy and publications from educational institutes.
Hayes said Wi-Fi was empowering for learners who get together in self-formed study groups. “The power of those students with that initiative, with that drive, having access to unlimited resources. Especially when they are being guided by staff or by Rhodes students; where to look, what’s the best thing to do. It really is potentially a game changer.”
“From our perspective at the Centre for Social Development (CSD), we are just so grateful that Wi-Fi has expanded into a number of our Early Childhood Development Centres, which empowers the staff there,” Hayes added.