In 1997, the National Centre for Educational Technology and Distance Education in the National Department of Education identified the need for the development of clear and comprehensive policies for addressing the development of appropriate and sustainable Information Communication Technology (ICT) capacity in South African schools. Experiences from other countries, regardless of their stage of development, show that factors which accompany the successful implementation of IT in schools are networks of connectivity and structured and continuous programmes to train teachers to use the new technology for educational purposes.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, supported by Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, launched the new paperless education system pilot project, “The Big Switch On”, at Boitumelong Secondary School in Sedibeng Section, Tembisa, as response to SA’s poor e-readiness ranking. The paperless education system gives pupils access to learning material, workbooks and other subject matter through the use of information technology. The seven schools in the pilot project receive state-of-the-art internet connection and each pupil will receive a tablet, therefore turning ordinary schools into “classrooms of the future. This is a great achievement considering that just a few years ago most schools in our country did not have access to computers let alone the internet.
Most developed economies have very good IT infrastructure, suggesting that IT platforms provide a foundation for, and contribute to, development. In some urban areas, South Africa’s IT infrastructure is good, but the opposite is true for most rural areas. The e-skills plan that government has embarked on will ensure that the current gaps in the education system across the country when it comes to the accessibility of information technology are closed. Progress has been made but it has been slow.
Contribution by: Maboko Seakamela (124900)