Daily Archives: March 8, 2018

ITC Global Awarded Contract Renewal with Plan International for Communications to 24 Sites in Western and Central Africa

Three-Year Agreement Follows Multiple Awards Supporting NGO Missions in Africa & Middle East

HOUSTON, March 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — ITC Global, a leading provider of satellite communications to remote and harsh environments, announced today that it has been awarded a three-year contract renewal by Plan International for service to 24 sites across western and central Africa. The agreement, which establishes continuous delivery of remote communications services and includes an electronics upgrade for all sites, supports the delivery of Plan International’s global strategy to spearhead a movement for 100 million girls around the world, enabling them to learn, lead, decide and thrive. The contract follows ITC Global’s recent contract awards with multiple non-governmental organizations (NGOs) covering connectivity needs for more than 80 sites across Africa and the Middle East. ITC Global has enabled always-on communications for Plan International’s operations in Africa for nearly 10 years, and this award speaks to the partnership history and high quality of performance that ITC Global has consistently delivered. Plan International is a non-profit development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.

ITC Global - A Panasonic Company

The agreement establishes delivery of a custom network using very small aperture terminal (VSAT) technology to support Plan International’s in-country operations. In addition to sites’ existing fixed, 2.4-meter antennas in service, all system electronics will be upgraded. These efforts will require local field technicians to perform site visits for equipment replacement and general maintenance, enabled by ITC Global’s local presence in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo. The field electronics refresh will be completed in 2018, all while being backed by ITC Global’s 24×7 network monitoring and support for the entire contract lifecycle.

“Leading NGO and humanitarian aid organizations trust ITC Global to deliver upon mission-critical needs out in the field – whether they are responding to natural disasters or working to improve quality of life for vulnerable individuals or environments,” said Yagnesh Rajendren, Vice President, Global Enterprise at ITC Global. “By establishing connectivity life lines for those on the front lines, we make operational excellence possible via reliable, always-on communications. We are pleased to serve Plan International’s work in Africa once again and value the true partnership we’ve developed over the last 10 years.”

“We have selected ITC Global to continue providing communications capabilities for our African operations as we’ve worked together over a significant period to customize the service so that it expertly addresses our needs on the ground,” said Bhavin Patel, Global Infrastructure Manager at Plan International. “As a long-standing partner, we have confidence in ITC Global’s ability to deliver innovative connectivity solutions via the latest technology, purpose-built for critical humanitarian operations such as ours.”

ITC Global has delivered communications services for NGO customers across the globe, including within the Africa, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Europe regions, for more than a decade. In 2017, ITC Global added and extended contracts for two high-profile customers to its NGO and humanitarian aid portfolio, encompassing large-scale site operations in Africa. These organizations – requiring always-on connectivity for their missions around the world – include an international humanitarian organization providing medical services to regions impacted by diseases and combat, along with a wildlife conservation group seeking to protect remote, biodiverse environments.

About ITC Global
ITC Global is a leading provider of satellite communications to the energy, mining and maritime and NGO markets. Companies in remote and harsh environments require communications with both global coverage and unwavering customer service. ITC Global enables improved real-time decision-making and enhanced health, safety and environmental management through a unified communications solution, tailored to the requirements of each client. Solutions include custom network design, hardware implementation, field engineering, technical support and enterprise-grade satellite bandwidth. ITC Global operates 24×7 carrier-class networks across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. It became a subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation in 2015. For more information, visit www.itcglobal.com.

Contact:
Alix Anne Wright, Director of Global Marketing
awright@itcglobal.com

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Scholastic Literacy Pro™ Named Primary Resource/ Equipment Supplier of the Year at The 2018 GESS Education Awards

Literacy Pro Recognized for Matching Students with High-Interest, Authentic Titles to Raise Reading Achievement while Providing Educators with Data to Differentiate Instruction

NEW YORK, March 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Literacy Pro™, an innovative digital reading and assessment program from the international division of Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, was named the Primary Resource/Equipment Supplier of the Year by the 2018 GESS Education Awards. The GESS Education Awards recognize high-quality and diverse educational products, resources, service and people as well as the best educational establishments and the most dedicated members of the teaching profession.

Scholastic Logo.

For more information about Literacy Pro, visit scholastic.com/literacypro.

As the Primary Resource/Equipment Supplier of the Year, Literacy Pro was recognized for its strength in guiding educators to support students in grades 2–12 in reaching reading proficiency goals, connecting them to authentic books that will maximize their achievement, and building a culture of reading within a school.

Currently used in 47 countries, Literacy Pro provides an online adaptive assessment that measures students’ reading comprehension and generates a personalized book list that matches each student’s reading level and individual interests. Each title includes a comprehension quiz that provides an opportunity for students to earn points towards certificate levels in the program. Educators also have access to dashboards where they can view detailed reports that inform instructional decisions and ensure students are reaching required levels of proficiency, all of which can be customized within the program to support different curriculum benchmarks.

Literacy Pro Library, an enhancement of the program, offers an interactive ebook library consisting of more than 900 titles including popular series Goosebumps™, Discover More, A True Book™, and more. The Library includes resources such as audio books, interactive vocabulary, and a student recording feature to provide a personalized experience for all readers. Additionally, educators can assign books to students using reading levels and content areas and monitor their reading progress.

QUOTES:

Anne Boynton-Trigg, VP, Export Sales and Marketing at Scholastic
“We are honored that Scholastic Literacy Pro has been named ‘Primary Resource/Equipment Supplier of the Year’ and is receiving recognition as a program students and educators can depend on to inform classroom instruction and independent reading. The program’s ability to effortlessly match students with engaging, authentic texts they want to read creates a culture of reading that engages every child while building the foundation they need to become lifelong learners.

Leticia Becerril, Educator and Literacy Pro user, Colegio Cuernavaca, Mexico
“Literacy Pro and Literacy Pro Library provide teachers with evidence-based data so we can make the best teaching and learning decisions to develop our students into successful, proficient readers.”

Since 2017, Scholastic Literacy Pro has received the BESSIE award for Best Primary Literacy Resource Website and was a finalist for the 2018 BETT award for Best Primary Content Resource.

For more information about Scholastic, visit http://mediaroom.scholastic.com.

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Minister Lindiwe Sisulu clarifies non-attendance in Parliament on 7 March 2018

The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation has noted with concern misleading media reports that Hon Minister Sisulu, MP, did not offer an apology to Parliament for being unable to attend the oral question to the Peace and Security Cluster session on Wednesday, 7 March 2018.

We would like to put on record that the Minister submitted her letter of apology to the Speaker, that the letter was indeed acknowledged and on that basis of an apology the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Hon Luwellyn Landers, MP, was allowed to respond to questions on behalf of the Minister.

Source: Government of South Africa

South African Social Security Agency: State of readiness on payment of social grants

SASSA/SAPO state of readiness on payment of social grants

Programme director

CEO

Senior officials from the different government entities

Members of the media

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this joint briefing by the CEO’s of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the South African Post Office (SAPO). The partnership between these two entities is a true reflection of what can be achieved when government resources are pooled in pursuance of a common objective.

In his 2018 State of the Nation the Address (SONA), the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa declared the year 2018 the Centennial Year of former president Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu. These caring leaders laid a firm foundation for our thriving democracy by fighting for equality, dignity and the alleviation of poverty.

In 1994 when the new dispensation came into power, amongst the many transformational interventions, it introduced a social security programme that sought to restore the dignity of the poor and the vulnerable. This was in line with the values and aspiration fought for by the likes Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu and many more.

We remain committed to providing social assistance through grants to poor and vulnerable South Africans. Our social assistance programme is at the heart of government’s poverty alleviation programme and central to restoring the dignity of our people. Through it, we continue to improve the living conditions of poor, vulnerable and underprivileged South Africans. These include unemployed South Africans as well as orphaned and vulnerable children living in child headed households.

Social grants have improved the lives of our people.

Government is providing social assistance to over 17 million poor South Africans through social grants. The majority of the citizens benefitting are children. The child support grant represents two-thirds of the total number of grants administered by Sassa.

This grant addresses poverty among children and has grown from 70 000 social grants in 1998 to almost 12 million in 2018. Social grants bring financial security to many families and is, according to the General Household Survey, the main source of income for many South Africans.

Suspension of the invalidity of CPS Contract

A year ago, the Constitutional Court deliberated on a contract that was deemed invalid and ruled to suspend the invalidity by 12 months ending 31 March 2018. This was to enable South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) time to put in place a valid contract, which will amongst others include the South African Post Office (SAPO).

The former President Zuma tasked the Inter Ministerial Committee on Comprehensive Social Security to oversee the implementation of the Constitution Court order. A number of media and Parliamentary briefings have been held to update the nation in particular beneficiaries. As we approach 31 March we are here to provide South Africans with the progress and confirm the state of readiness to take on this major task.

Government is pleased with the progress made to ensure that it complies with all the directives of the Constitutional Court. The service agreement signed between Sassa and SAPO in December 2017 enabled SAPO to partner with Sassa in the payment of social grants, ushering in a public sector-led and efficient grants payment hybrid model.

We are pleased to announce a significant state of readiness for SAPO to commence payments of social grants and assure South Africans that social grants will be paid from 01 April 2018. The relationship between Sassa and SAPO to ensure the smooth implementation of the public sector-led hybrid grants payment model has evolved positively.

Phasing out of the CPS Contract

In the past, Sassa relied on the services of CPS to pay 10, 7 million beneficiaries through cash payments, direct deposits and electronic payments.

SASSA has reactivated the PMG accounts in the SA Reserve Bank environment, and is using this to manage the money for the direct transfers. This means that the money is not paid over to a private contractor in advance, but remains within the government environment until deposited into the social grant beneficiary accounts.

Sassa has successfully implemented pilot projects since January 2018 by directly paying beneficiaries who receive grants via commercial banks, including Postbank

Sassa has made direct payment to more than 2, 3 million beneficiaries for the month of March 2018 and this number will be increased further in April 2018.

The testing for direct payment for beneficiaries receiving payment through the Sassa payment card was done for 100 000 beneficiaries for the March 2018 payment period.

In April, a total of 5.7 million beneficiaries transacting through the Sassa Payment Card will be paid directly by Sassa without the assistance of CPS. In essence, by 01 April 2018, Sassa would have paid approximately 7.7 million of the 10, 7 million beneficiaries directly.

SASSA also intends depositing money into the cards for those beneficiaries who receive their social grants in cash from pay points. The only support that will be required for these approximately 2,8 million beneficiaries is the distribution of cash at the pay points.

All the above transfers will be made directly from SASSA’s own PMG account, which operated within the SA Reserve Bank environment.

Sassa has already taken over from CPS the management of the direct funeral policy deductions for in excess of 727 000 beneficiaries. These are deductions made in terms of the Social Assistance Act, and are the only legally allowable deductions made before the social grant is paid into the account of the beneficiary.

The 2, 8 million social grant beneficiaries who are paid in cash at Sassa pay points on their normal individual payment dates. It is for the actual distribution of cash where SASSA still requires support. It is for this reason that Sassa brought a limited application to the Constitutional Court with the intention of asking the court to suspend the invalidity declaration of its contract with CPS for six months. This would enable cash payments to be made through the CPS infrastructure till September 2018 for approximately 26% of beneficiaries.

A tender has already been advertised and a payment contractor for cash payments will be appointed very soon. The further suspension of the invalidity declaration will also ensure that a proper phase in/phase out or hand over process happens between CPS and SAPO. As you know well, this matter is currently before the ConCourt and we will not be in a position to elaborate further on it. The ruling from the Constitutional court is pending.

Sassa is in the process of appointing a Cash Payments Service provider who will distribute social grants using the new Sassa-SAPO card at all pay points across the country.

Sassa, through National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank is also in talks with commercial banks for the establishment of a low-cost account for social grants beneficiaries who receive their money directly into their personal bank accounts. Sassa is currently engaging 27 accredited cooperative financial institutions that may be used in the future to pay social grants.

The SA Post Office is ready to pay social grants.

SAPO will commence with the phasing in of processes to ensure that the payment of social grants takes place without interruption as from 1 April 2018 as per service agreement between the two entities.

SAPO is ready to open accounts for Sassa grants beneficiaries from 03 April 2018. The testing of the bulk account opening process with a sample of 1,000 existing Sassa beneficiaries’ data was seamlessly concluded in February 2018. The special disbursement account has the following features:

1 free mini-statement per month;

1 free balance enquiry per month;

3 free cash withdrawals;

No deductions;

Free full statement covering up to a maximum of 3 months on demand

Free first replacement card

Given the participation of the SAPOs Postbank in the payment system, an increasing number of beneficiaries have also already opened Postbank accounts between January and February 2018, exercising one of the key choice options of the hybrid model. Some of these beneficiaries have already received their March social grants via Postbank.

Sassa and SAPO are starting to phase in a process where, if a current Sassa pay-point is within 5km of a Post Office branch and the post office branch meets the minimum norms and standards, then the Post Office will take over the cash payments of that pay point.

The integrated payment of social grants will benefit beneficiaries and is user friendly.

The Sassa and SAPO partnership will enable the development of an integrated grant payment system. This will be a significant milestone on the roadmap of in-sourcing the grant payment function in the near future. The integrated payment system will be convenient, easy to use and accessible to all social grant beneficiaries.

It will also go a long way towards reducing fraud and corruption associated with the payment of social grants through its integration with Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS). Sassa and SAPO will continue to hold regular meetings to ensure the smooth transition from 01 April 2018 and beyond. The Public-Public Partnership between Sassa and SAPO presents a model service delivery blueprint for government that is easily replicable in other state service sectors.

All Sassa cards will continue to work until the end of the year.

Beneficiaries using the old Sassa Card may continue to do so until 30 September 2018. We will soon introduce the new Sassa cards via the Post Office and beneficiaries will be informed about the process to be followed. The new card will be progressively introduced over the period from April to 30 September 2018, when it is expected that the current SASSA card will no longer be in circulation at all.

In the meantime, beneficiaries should ignore anybody offering them any alternative card to the Sassa one under the guise that the Sassa Card has changed. For clarity on this matter, beneficiaries may contact Sassa on 0800 60 10 11 or visit the nearest Sassa Office.

Payment options available to Social Grant Beneficiaries

Sassa beneficiaries have three options of receiving their social grants namely, cash payments at pay points, through merchants/supermarkets, and via personal bank accounts. Beneficiaries are encouraged to choose a payment option that is convenient to them. Those beneficiaries who already receive social grants through the banks are not required to open new accounts.

Beneficiaries who prefer their grants paid directly into their bank accounts should complete a Request for Bank Payment form available on www.sassa.gov.za, any SAPO outlet or Sassa office. The completed form should be handed to the nearest Sassa Office.

We wish to express our appreciation to all members of the public who have called in to seek clarity on this process and especially appreciate the efforts of community organisations, labour representatives, faith based structures and a host of other groups who have played a key role in sharing information with beneficiaries or members of their families to smooth this process.

Special mention needs to be made of the many staff of Sassa and SAPO who have heeded the call to action to work in a collaborative spirit to ensure that this partnership yields the results so critical to the life of our nation.

Working together we are committed to ensuring that the right social grant is paid to the right person at the right time and place, njalo.

Source: Government of South Africa

Acting Provincial Commissioner welcomes the arrest of police killers

The KwaZulu-Natal Acting Provincial Commissioner, Major General Bheki Langa has welcomed yesterday’s arrest of two suspects who were involved in the shooting of Captain Dumisani Mhlanzi at KwaMaphumulo. In a follow up operation at 21:30, police officers from various operational units in the SAPS proceeded to a hostel block on Musa Road, KwaMashu to arrest more suspects. The suspects opened fire on police officers and during the ensuing gun battle three suspects were fatally wounded. Three firearms were recovered on the scene including the pistol belonging to Captain Mhlanzi.

We hope that the bold actions of these police officers will bring some closure to the family of Captain Mhlanzi. We are told that these men may be linked to many robberies that were committed in KwaZulu-Natal. I need to commend the multidisciplinary approach employed by police in KZN that is ensuring that criminals are brought to book. Various police units working together with other policing agencies outside the SAPS as well as in the private sector are ensuring that criminal syndicates are dismantled. We once again wish to remind criminals not to even think of shooting at our police officers as they will be making a mistake, said Major General Langa.

On 23 February 2018 at 16:10, this group of felons entered a shop in KwaMaphumulo and robbed the employees of cash. As the suspects were fleeing they opened fire on Captain Mhlanzi who was off duty at the time. The police officer (54) was taken to hospital where later died. He was laid to rest this weekend.

We also call on all communities to distance themselves from criminals that live in their neighbourhood. Even the families of these criminals should play a role in discouraging them from being involved in criminal activities. It is very disturbing to see criminals receiving a hero’s send off during funerals where family and friends turn up in numbers to show support to these criminals, added the Acting Provincial Commissioner.

Source: South African Police Service