Samsung’s Smart Schools work with global governments and organisations to provide classrooms in underserved communities around the world with its technologies and products, so that more students may enjoy the full benefits of a quality digital education.
According to the 2016 UN Sustainable Development Goals report, some 124 million children and teenagers worldwide were unable to receive a proper education due to financial costs and lack of accessibility. Education is a major determinant of one’s quality of life, not to mention the general well-being of a community, and Samsung has, therefore, made an effort to improve access to education through its Smart School initiatives.
The goal of Samsung’s Smart School initiative is to bridge the IT accessibility gap and improve the quality of students’ education by collaborating with governments and appropriate organisations to provide interactive learning opportunities with digital devices. Since 2013, Samsung’s Smart Schools have supported over 200,000 students in 72 countries.
Since 2011, Samsung’s African Regional Head Office has jointly operated solar-powered internet schools throughout Africa in cooperation with the Korea Education and Research Information Service (KERIS) under the Korean Ministry of Education. Equipped with Samsung’s tablets, PCs, and other devices, the schools motivate students through captivating lessons taught by local, KERIS-trained teachers.
“So far, the initiative has supported over 3,000 schools that have allowed well over 1.4 million bright young minds to learn in more fun and interactive environments. As is the case with Samsung’s Tech Institutes and other education-enriching initiatives, the ultimate goal of the Smart School program is to level the playing field to help students in these communities thrive in the digital era.”
SA CLASSROOMS GET SMART
Over the past five years, Samsung has deployed a number of fully integrated, real-time digital classrooms in some of South Africa’s most educationally marginalised schools to support the empowerment of South Africa’s youth.
As the fourth industrial revolution unfolds, a vast range of rapidly evolving technologies are revolutionising the way that we interact with and learn about the physical, digital and biological worlds. This trend has a fundamental impact on all aspects of life, radically changing the way that we learn, work and play.
For children growing up in marginalised communities, the digital revolution has the potential to unlock opportunities that transcend traditional divides between developed and developing economies as cloud-based computing, e-commerce and remote working opportunities make location irrelevant in the modern world of work.
Through its global Smart Classroom and Digital Villages social responsibility programme, Samsung Electronics is ensuring that African children growing up in low-income areas have access to Smart Learning Environments in communities that have access to electricity, improved health care and better economic opportunities.
“Arming a child with a decent education that is relevant to today’s world is vital to the future of South Africa”
Justin Hume, Chief Marketing Office for Samsung South Africa
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
Justin Hume, chief marketing officer at Samsung South Africa, says, “Educating children in a way that ensures their space in the future working environment is critical to enabling the growth and stability of our country. Samsung’s Smart Classroom and Digital Village initiatives are making an enormous difference in the lives of children who wouldn’t normally have access to learning about and through technology.”
In a smart classroom environment, access to information is no longer tied to location or circumstance. Connected learners in the most remote villages have the same opportunity to learn using web-based resources and integrated classroom solutions as children in well-developed urban environments. At no point in history have we been better positioned to challenge existing cycles of poverty through education, which is made possible by Smart, connected learning environments such as the Samsung Smart Classroom.
According to Samsung, electronic devices such as tablets and interactive displays, together with the IT infrastructure needed to operationalise the Smart Learning environment, opens a whole new world to learners. The connected classroom provides access to interactive learning solutions and capabilities that aren’t found in books and are easily updated to present learners with the latest global trends and current research to develop critical learning areas such as maths, science, engineering and technology.
The Smart Classroom also allows learners to work at their own pace, and augment primary learning materials with additional activities and web-based resources, which creates a tailor-made learning environment. The Samsung tablets used by learners during classes are preloaded with educational content that is aligned with the national curriculum and teachers are able to create interactive experiences with interactive eBoards, installed in classrooms, negating the need for outdated paper and chalkboard-based learning methodologies.
Samsung not only provides all of the infrastructure and assets needed to create a fully interactive, technologically enabling environment in their Smart Classrooms but also ensures that teachers receive the training needed to use the resources to maximum effect.
SMART LEARNING FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE
The Samsung Smart Classroom is a fully integrated, real-time digital classroom that creates a simple, interactive and engaging environment for students and teachers.
Samsung’s goal is for the Smart Classroom experience to enhance interactive learning and collaborative teaching with shared best practices to support the development of new teaching methods based on the students’ needs. Educators and students share dynamic learning materials and apply innovative technology to the learning experience through the screen sharing and S-Pen digital handwriting features.
The Smart School Solution by Samsung has three components. The first is an interactive management solution which allows teachers, through an LCD e-board, to deliver content to students, share screens, check student progress, conduct group activities and run tests or instant polls. The second is a learning management system that provides educational material and content, such as e-textbooks and learning apps. The third is a student information system which helps teachers track an individual pupil’s progress, attendance and other information. Both teachers and learners are provided with tablets to carry out the programme.
“Technology is a powerful tool for social change, especially when it comes to education. The desired end-result is to introduce technology and make e-learning accessible to learners from previously disadvantaged communities.” Justin Hume, Chief Marketing Office for Samsung South Africa.
Samsung has successfully rolled out its Smart Classroom Initiative across the globe, including in the Far East, India and Africa – where access to digital resources in the learning environment has the greatest potential to empower the youth to disrupt historical patterns of underdevelopment and poverty.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Samsung South Africa points out that the key to creating a sound and sustainable future for South Africa, and in the rest of the world, is to ensure that children are given the very best opportunities to learn about the world around them, in a way that is relevant to today’s technology and pace.
There is no disputing fact that children in resource-restricted communities who are afforded the opportunity to attend technology-enabled schools are at an advantage. However, if the community in which the school is embedded is left behind, the benefits could be seriously undermined by poor service delivery, high rates of unemployment among adults and resistance to change, among other factors.
Samsung has answered this challenge by deploying Digital Villages in South Africa, with the aim to provide under-resourced areas access to advanced ICT, education and health services. The idea behind the Digital Village is to provide the infrastructure and technology needed to bridge the digital divide and serve as a catalyst for local business development and government service delivery.
The Samsung Digital Village Initiative includes several interventions which take advantage of solar energy to introduce electricity to villages that are underserviced by the national grid to power Smart Classrooms, medical centres, and small businesses. The Digital Village Model successfully addresses one of South Africa’s greatest challenges – sustainable electrification, which continues to undermine economic development in the metropolis and cripples advancement in rural areas.
Since its introduction in 2015, thousands of South Africans – both young and old – have benefited from Samsung’s Digital Village and Smart Classroom Initiatives, both directly and indirectly. The inclusion of children from lower-income communities in the digital revolution lights a flame of hope for many and paves the way for South Africa to achieve President Ramaphosa’s ambitious vision for the country as a global contender in the digital age.