Harvest Combined School in Ladysmith in Kwazulu-Natal is an independent school founded and owned by the Harvest Educational Trust – a registered non-profit organisation – and one of the schools receiving free fibre Internet access from fibre network operator Evotel as part of the company’s schools programme.
“The Harvest Combined School is a school that immediately stands out as different and fully uses the Internet to educate students in modern times and, like Evotel, shares a vision to positively impact their community and the world,” says Bradley Bekker, head of brand at Evotel.
The school has started to address the needs identified in the community to serve students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and is a member of the Association of Christian Schools International. It is also accredited with Umalusi.
The Harvest Combined School does not have a computer lab as some other schools do but, explains school principal Hagan Nash: “It is a fully fledged BYOD (bring your own device) school and works within the Google for Education space. This means that every student connects to their cloud-based classroom to access their schoolwork and use other Google apps for learning.”
As a Google for Education enterprise, the school relies a lot on the Internet and data to enhance communication between students and teachers. For example, says Nash, the shy student who couldn’t ask a question in class will e-mail the teacher after the lesson for further help, which enhances the quality of education provided.
The fibre access provided by Evotel prioritises the admin office, which receives first priority when it comes to accessing the Internet.
“We appreciate that the Harvest Combined School is also investigating how they can use fibre to increase students’ overall learning experience and make it more well-rounded. By well-rounded education, we mean it needs to be inclusive of academic work, sports and other extracurricular activities,” says Bekker.
The school is investigating the possibility of introducing gaming as an extracurricular activity, if finances permit it. An alumni student working at an online games company has approached the school to get it on board as an outreach programme to further drive and optimise education in South Africa through technology.
“The fact that a previous student at Harvest Combined School is now part of a tech-based start-up company that is focused on taking education further, and starting with the institution that moulded him, simply shows the power that fibre-enabled education can have to motivate progress and establishing businesses that care and give back to their communities,” Bekker says.
According to the principal, Nash, everyone loves having Evotel’s fibre in the school. “We are so grateful to Evotel for generously getting involved in education and providing schools that fall under their network with free fibre access. We only trust that other organisations and ISPs will join the drive to better educate our youths by sponsoring data costs and high-speed service packages to enable schools to access the fibre speeds needed to run and manage BYOD school environments,” says Nash.
We at Evotel are very proud to be able to provide the schools that fall under our network coverage with free access to fibre Internet
With ever decreasing data prices, it is more than possible for schools like the Harvest Combined School to add gaming as an e-sport to their curricula for their students, allowing the school to make full use of the speeds, stability and reliability only fibre Internet access can offer, whether those schools are in large cities or smaller rural towns.
Says Bekker in conclusion: “We at Evotel are very proud to be able to provide the schools that fall under our network coverage with free access to fibre Internet and we are extremely excited to see what other interesting methods of educating our country’s youths and educational initiatives will still be explored to make education fun. The number of schooling possibilities and the variety of added opportunities for students seems endless.”
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