Gauteng’s smart school project making progress
Gauteng is well on its way to achieving its goal of paperless, technologically advanced schools.
The Gauteng department of basic education’s project team for smart schools, under the leadership of MEC Panyaza Lesufi, is currently planning to implement phase three of the initiative, which will include the remaining Grade 12 classes in schools where fees are paid.
All Grade 11 classes will be included in the programme in the 2016/17 financial year.
Phase four will include grades 9 and 10 in the 2017/18 financial year, with grades 7 and 8 coming on board in the 2018/19 financial year.
The Gauteng department of basic education launched the first phase of the project in January last year with seven schools, which benefited more than 7 000 pupils.
Phase two targeted matriculants in feeless township schools, reaching more than 64 000 pupils.
The initiative is a five-year project that will be implemented in phases, with the main objective being to change classroom practice and improve pupils’ results by introducing technology into classrooms.
Smart classrooms and schools are part of the province’s plans to improve the education system in Gauteng.
Gauteng premier David Makhura said in his state of the province address last year that about R2.6 billion had been assigned to infrastructure for education.
“We will also change existing schools into smart schools.”
According to Makhura, many new smart schools have already been built.
“In addition, we have 88 000 tablet computers for use in schools and will continue with enhanced e-learning.”
Makhura said that, with smart schools, his administration wanted to move closer to the “kind of society envisaged in the National Development Plan where opportunities are not determined by birth, but by ability, education and hard work”. Oupa Bodibe, acting spokesperson for the MEC for education, said the smart school initiative involved connecting schools to the internet and providing teachers with laptops and pupils with tablets. Smart schools have interactive writing boards and are also provided with approved ebooks and multimedia content, professional development and training.
“As part of the project, schools receive rehabilitation and support on physical as well as electronic security.”
He said research showed that pupils’ results were improved by smart classrooms, while there was also an improvement in attendance and teachers who spent more of their time in classrooms preparing their lessons.
“It has brought about excitement inside and outside the classroom. Pupils are now equipped with research tools that have a positive impact on their preparations for assessment.”
TAP HERE FOR SUCCESS Njabulo Ndjimande and Siphesihle Zulu (both 10 years old) of the Gugulesizwe Primary School in Daveyton use tablets as part of the smart classrooms education initiative