Vodacom Business modernises comms at the Eastern Cape Department of Education
Vodacom, in partnership with the Eastern Cape Department of Education, is using technology to promote active citizenry communication.
Vodacom has partnered with the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE) to provide the department with a tech solution that promotes active, efficient and cost-effective citizenry communication.
When South Africa implemented the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, ECDoE Deputy Director Ms Viwe Vuyo Mkona and her team were having to field the queries and complaints of an entire province. To register and resolve cases in a timely and cost-effective way, the ECDoE were amenable to the request from the Eastern Cape Premier’s Office for a fully fledged Provincial Call Centre.
The Department of Education Call Centre in Zwelitsha, Zone 6, was and is where the public register enquiries/complaints about various issues. These range from exam-related matters to non-admission/placement of learners in schools, infrastructure problems in schools, non-payment of teachers, gratuities, pensions, as well as non-payment of service providers. Staff needed to register each case, and without the system it was difficult, as cases would be allocated to call centre agents and would need to be resolved within a stipulated time frame.
On 28 March 2020, the Department of Education Citizen Care Services Centre was declared a Provincial Call Centre. It was now expected to field calls, queries and complaints from across the Eastern Cape and outside the province. These included water shortage issues, travel permits, payment dates of SASSA grants, food parcel requests, and deliveries,
It soon became obvious to Mkona and her team that to track each query effectively, they’d need the services of technology provider to help them solve their challenges (the Sikuncede Njani smart citizen engagement app, which was already in existence at the time, came in handy).
The solution was endorsed by the DoE Executive Committee back in 2016, but began operating in April 2019. Since then, the ECDoE has been using the Vodacom Business Citizen Engagement App – a mobile solution that provides the department with a real-time, two-way citizen communication platform to report and resolve education-related issues.
In collaboration with Citizen Care Services DoE, Vodacom Business had already developed the smart citizen app Sikuncede Njani to provide the ECDoE with an interactive mobile solution that allows people to report education-related matters in their community.
The suggestion was to implement this app with the Call Centre so they could register and track enquires as they arose. “The way in which Vodacom presented this integration made it easy to see the impact and possibilities it could have with the department,” says Mkona. Through the app, people across the Eastern Cape and outside the province can use their mobile devices to report education-related issues via a USSD (*134*2570#) option for feature phones, and a mobile app for smartphones.
Because the Call Centre is also a walk-in centre, clients can engage with the department in different ways: They can walk in; call us toll free on 080 121 2570; or email email@example.com. We also have a dedicated WhatsApp number 078 660 1314 that clients can use to report bullying in schools. These cases/queries/complaints are recorded on the Sikuncede Njani app so they can be tracked and traced to the final resolution stage.
- Viwe Vuyo Mkona, Deputy Director: Citizen Care Services Department of Education
The Sikuncede Njani app essentially uses mobile tech to place government in the hands of its citizens. Eastern Cape residents can report school-related issues, and the app provides a platform for greater citizen engagement and communication with DoE representatives. It helps:
- Bypass the queues to report teacher support and learning material shortages, infrastructure, and more.
- Track the progress of issues reported and receive notifications on their progress.
- Find and engage with DoE representatives.
- Locate local government schools and other facilities.
Mkona adds that since the implementation of the Sikuncede Njani app, they’ve already seen a massive reduction in walk-ins to the department. Instead, people are finding it simpler and more efficient to log their issues within the app. In fact, the app has been so successful that the Office of the Premier has requested that Mkona and her team assist with training sessions in using the app. This training is now ongoing.
While successful rollouts of the app have happened across the province, it remains vital that the more rural areas of the Eastern Cape are able to access this game-changing technology that has the potential to make a positive difference in their lives.
For us, Vodacom has always been a great support, both for the Call Centre and the entire department. With each new challenge, we find we need to make different amendments, and Vodacom is always on hand to supply training and support, across our 12 districts throughout the Eastern Cape.
The 3 key benefits of citizen engagement
- Service delivery: Enables people to log a service-delivery incident and follow up on the progress.
- Monitor service delivery: Anywhere, any time and on any device.
- Mobile devices: Uses the convenience of mobile communication to improve service delivery.
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