In response to Government temporarily suspending the national school calendar for private and mainstream institutions due to COVID 19, The Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) in partnership with local innovator introduced free access to their online platform geared towards helping students with educational content.
Classmate Online Solution is an online mobile application platform, launched in partnership with Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) and Classmate (PTY) Ltd, contains Botswana Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) content that includes; all subject syllabuses, past examination papers, education quizzes, e -library books and video tutorials amongst other educational materials.
While the public has been advised to cease any form of gathering, BTCL and classmate are hoping students and their teachers will use this time and their mobile phones to continue with the school curriculum and also rehearsals for past tests and exam, all accessed freely on the mobile application. BTC has suspended rates for the mobile application until the end of April 2020, meaning that students will be able to have free access to its inclusive e-learning platform and continue with their coursework during the indefinite school closure to enhance their performance.
BTC Managing Director, Mr Anthony Masunga said “BTCL is alive to some of the challenges in the education sector hence, the innovative platform is designed to better manage student educational outcomes and improve academic results in line with Thuto-Net, a critical component of the Government policy on the promotion of e-learning.”
“Thuto-Net is an effort by Government to ensure that the education sector provides adequate opportunities for all learners to develop the necessary skills and to fully benefit from Information Communication Technology (ICT) to become active participants in the global knowledge economy among others. The inclusive digital platform for students and educators will help them access educational content, enhance interaction and promote collaborative learning to better manage student educational outcomes as we transition to a knowledge-based economy,” Masunga said.
Classmate Online Solution developer Thuso Othusitse said the platform has three years in existence and its purpose is making sure Botswana`s educational syllabus is accessible to students via their mobile phones or computers. The platform targets schools such as Primary, Junior and Senior secondary schools. Othusitse shared that “at the moment we have the BGCSE syllabus available and we have been able to register 13 schools in the country on the application. BTC has created bundle packages for accessing the platform, however due to COVID 19 it will be accessed freely for thirty days by students while they are at home.”
Othusitse shared the necessity of the platform as it will ensure that learners and educators can access content, whether they are at home or on the move whenever there is internet connectivity.
“The innovative platform has been made in such a way as Facebook for easy interaction, however it is education based and students on the platform will be able to interact with each other in real time. The platform has features such as forums whereby students can post questions, upload screenshots of question papers and have fellow students and teachers solve the problem,” he said.
On the other hand BTCL Managing Director emphasised the importance of partnering with local innovators. He said “we are proud to partner with and give young innovators a platform and an opportunity to showcase their conceptions that can positively contribute to our country’s’ development.”
Meanwhile telecos giant shared that they have partnered with the Ministry of health and wellness to set up and host a toll free contact centre number as a key point of contact for the public in relation to the COVID-19 scourge. They will zero rate calls destined to the toll- free number meaning that they will not impose or charge any network that is not BTCL calling the toll free number. BTC will also absorb related interconnection costs to the contact centre given that this an emergency.