Government wants to launch a satellite to help South African students study remotely

As the country’s universities prepare for the move towards level 3 lockdown, the government is looking at possible technologies which could help improve remote-learning in the country, says minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande,

Nzimande said that his department is now considering the use of ‘Space Science and Earth Observation technologies and platforms’ in support of its plans to reach to vulnerable students.

“The Department of Science and Innovation, in conjunction with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, Sentech and South African National Space Agency, is currently looking at a long-term solution to supporting the digital transmission needs for the national education system through the launch of a locally-produced communications satellite,” he said.

“The CSIR is also completing the task of establishing a Geospatial planning map identifying the location and distribution of learning and co-learning sites in all the districts of South Africa to enable us to support students in the period before full return to campuses.”

Looking at a more ground-level approach, Nzimande said government is also committed to ensuring that all NSFAS students have access to an appropriate device to support their online learning and to ensure that no student is left behind.

“Some universities have already issued their students with laptops, some as part of their normal policies, others as a response to Covid-19.

“A lot of work then had to be undertaken to quantify the exact number and location of these students who still need to be issued with devices.

“That work has now been completed and procurement will commence as soon as the approval of the Minister of Finance is received,” he said.


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Government wants to launch a satellite to help South African students study remotely