Gauteng Education MEC Phanyaza Lesufi seems as excited about the return to school as many parents do! The reason for his anticipation is no secret - tomorrow sees the formal introduction of the Information and Communications Technology in Education Project - a R2 billion project to create “classrooms of the future”.
Paperless classroom orientation at Boitumelong Secondary Pic: EWN
The project means that in 7 Gauteng schools, each pupil has a tablet and internet connectivity from their desks, while interacting with their teachers in real time... their answers to problems will literally pop up on a big computer screen in front of the classroom.
Schools books will be replaced by e-books, and pupils will never have to carry, or share textbooks again.
Others benefitting from the project are the teachers - they won't have to carry around piles of workbooks waiting to be marked - thanks to the ability to access prescribed work online.
I truly believe this will eliminate time wasting in the classroom and tackle the curriculum immediately on day one.— Gauteng MEC for Education Phanyaza Lesufi
All schools will eventually benefit from fibre optic, wi-fi and broadband connections to the internet - services negotiated with providers such as MTN. These options should ensure consistent delivery of good quality video, voice and data... with a power backup system in case of loadshedding.
Boitumelong Secondary is one of 7 Gauteng schools earmarked to pilot the paperless classroom. It was a hive of acitvity today as teachers and students came to school early to familiarise themselves with the new tools.
Luckily there is a dedicated technician on hand to help iron out inevitable issues with first-time users.
Learners at Boitumelong Secondary get acquainted with their tablets Pic: EWN
When challenged by a caller on the security risks of schoolchildren being in posession of tablets, Lesufi is quoted as saying that extra security measures have been put in place at schools.
It costs me R230 to print a text book. It costs me R70 to get an e-book.— Gauteng MEC for Education Phanyaza Lesufi
While the savings are significant, the MEC admits additional funding is going to be needed to reconfigure the classrooms. Outstanding funding notwithstanding, MEC Lesufi has committed to helping township schools with great pass rates next.
In fact, while only seven Gauteng schools are currently benfitting from the Information and Communications Technology in Education Project, a total of 21 priority schools have been identified for the pilot phase:
I'm declaring the chalkboard and duster, history. They've played their part in history, now we need to move with the times!— Gauteng MEC for Education Phanyaza Lesufi
Listen to Stephen Grootes chat with the MEC here...