A new free-to-air satellite channel, Funda TV, will be providing South Africans with access to a number of courses from top universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University.
“Funda TV will be providing these vocational lectures and practical demonstrations on a free to air satellite channel available to all South African with Satellite TV access,” said iBurst, which is behind this initiative.
“We will be teaching the South African youth courses like artificial intelligence, how to build search engines, Website Design, Wi-Fi setup, Satellite TV installation, Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) installation and many other skills,” said iBurst CEO Thami Mtshali.
“We calculated the cost of educating one student at a South African university to be around R350,000 over a three year period, whereas with the courses on Funda TV a student could get skills for as little as R2,000, which pays for your Decoder and a TV if you don’t have one,” he said.
iBurst’s Joe Kgamedi said that the total cost of the satellite dish, decoder and installation will be less than a R1,000.
“You just need to send an SMS to a short code with your details to register for any specific course on offer,” said Kgamedi.
“Through the SMS platform and a Twitter link that will be made known soon, students can then interact amongst each other and the lecturer,” said Kgamedi.
“For those students that have access to PCs with Internet connectivity we will also provide a website and an e-mail platform to interact with lecturers.”
“We intend to start offering our Courses from mid-April 2012 and we wish to emphasize that there are no pre-qualification requisites for obtaining these life skills,” said Mtshali.
It is curious that iBurst is not simply using existing satellite TV platforms like DStv or TopTV for distribution, but Kgamedi said that they do not want any barriers to entry.
“We intend to launch our services on multiple channels and as inexpensive as possible, and as this is an iBurst CSI project we do not wish to have any barriers to entry for the millions of prospective students through existing mediums,” said Kgamedi.
The programmes would be aired daily from 16h00 and also over weekends.