Schools to drop chalk for e-learn­ing

The Star Late Edition - - METRO - BONGANI NKOSI [email protected] @Bon­ganiNkosi87

ONLY 28.8% of the pub­lic schools in KwaZulu-Natal and 43.9% in the Eastern Cape have ac­cess to the in­ter­net.

These are the dy­nam­ics Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s grand plan to turn pub­lic schools into In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy (ICT) hubs would first have to over­come if it is to ben­e­fit ru­ral learn­ers as well.

“The ANC gov­ern­ment will en­sure that our ed­u­ca­tion cur­ric­ula at all lev­els pre­pares learn­ers to be ac­tive par­tic­i­pants in the tech­no­log­i­cal change that the global econ­omy is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing,” Ramaphosa said on Sat­ur­day, read­ing his party’s Jan­uary 8 State­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to City Press, Ramaphosa’s ICT-in­clined an­nounce­ments will in­clude com­puter cod­ing and ro­bot­ics classes for learn­ers in Grades One to Three, uni­ver­sal roll-out of tablets to all learn­ers and digi­ti­sa­tion of text­books.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Stella Nd­abeni-Abra­hams said the gov­ern­ment in­tended to drop the chalk board for e-learn­ing.

But the ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment’s data re­veal­ing that schools in prov­inces with vast ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties have low in­ter­net ac­cess in­di­cated thou­sands of learn­ers could be left out.

The data is con­tained in the de­part­ment’s re­port de­tail­ing the 2018 ma­tric re­sults. It showed that just 55.5% of schools in Lim­popo have in­ter­net ac­cess, while in Mpumalanga the fig­ure stood at 66%.

The Western Cape and Gauteng, the coun­try’s most ur­ban prov­inces, led the pack with 98.4% and 88.7% re­spec­tively. The sparsely-pop­u­lated North­ern Cape was third with 76.5% school in­ter­net ac­cess.

In the Free State, 77.4% of schools have in­ter­net ac­cess. The North West had 71.7% of its schools con­nected to the in­ter­net.

Allen Thomp­son of the Na­tional Teach­ers Union yes­ter­day said Ramaphosa should set aside a “pro-ru­ral schools” bud­get to ad­dress broad­band ac­cess.

“They must also talk to Telkom to sup­ply schools with tele­phone lines,” Thomp­son said.

“Without that we’ll still have schools without data. Data without a tele­phone line is ter­ri­bly ex­pen­sive.”

But ru­ral schools still grap­pled with the most ba­sic needs that Ramaphosa should ad­dress be­fore even con­tem­plat­ing his dig­i­tal plans, Thomp­son said.

“We still have the prob­lem of ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture like de­cent san­i­ta­tion. We still have schools that are without elec­tric­ity. If you talk of a school that doesn’t have elec­tric­ity, then you can’t talk of ICT. You can’t talk of the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion,” he said.

The de­part­ment’s data showed that 89.9% of the schools in the coun­try have elec­tric­ity. The prov­ince with low elec­tri­fied schools was the Eastern Cape, with 79.6%.

Eli­jah Mh­langa, spokesper­son for the Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment, said the gov­ern­ment was al­ready col­lab­o­rat­ing with broad­band providers to en­sure 100% of schools have ac­cess to the in­ter­net.

“We work with ICT com­pa­nies to do that,” Mh­langa said.

“They roll out ac­cess points be­cause we can­not give schools ac­cess to in­ter­net where Vo­da­com, Telkom or Cell C do not have in­fra­struc­ture.”

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