Western Cape Harnessing Technology to Improve the Quality of Teaching
I am delighted to be here to celebrate the handing over of the "150 schools ICT project."
In an open, opportunity society for all, it is primary responsibility of the state to ensure that every child has access to a quality education. However, the state cannot achieve this objective by itself, the private sector can play a crucial role in providing desperately needed resources and expertise and through a partnership between the public and private sector we can together improve the quality of education provided in the Western Cape. After all, the best investment one can make is in education.
Therefore we thank Telkom SA most sincerely for their generous contribution towards this project which will contribute to the improvement of quality teaching and learning through ICT.
This partnership between Telkom SA, the National Department of Basic Education, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and its Khanya team, and our schools is a wonderful example of how the private sector and the community can assist the Western Cape Government in improving the quality of education provided in the province.
If our learners are to have any hope of competing in the global knowledge economy, it is essential that they are given every possible exposure to the use of technology - this is what makes today's celebration of Telkom's contribution so exciting.
Learners and teachers from 150 schools will now benefit from free Telkom internet connectivity for a year with a cap of 5 gigs, and then reduced rates thereafter. The interactive whiteboards, laptops and projectors will contribute greatly towards our goal of eradicating the digital divide, thus empowering our teachers to use appropriate and available technology to deliver curriculum to each and every learner in the province.
The WCED's Khanya programme has already had great success in this regard. So far, 1170 schools have been helped to use technology effectively, with a total of 44841 computers being used in Khanya schools. Twenty five thousand three hundred and ninety nine (25399) educators have been empowered to use technology optimally for curriculum delivery, and after today, we can add another four hundred and fifty (450) educators and computers to these figures.
The Interactive Telematics Teaching programme has also been a phenomenal success, especially in supporting our Grade 12 learners.
The principle purpose of this intervention is to create a virtual learning environment to support teaching and learning. Via interactive internet facilities, learners from 120 schools are able to interact with master teachers, based at Stellenbosch University, ask questions or request a detailed explanation of the educational material, when necessary. This virtual classroom platform makes it possible to reach a large number of learners and provide them with best quality teaching available.
The continuing shortage of qualified educators (particularly in the critical learning areas of Mathematics and Science), has required the Western Cape government to place a great deal of emphasis on harnessing technology in order to support and strengthen the quality of teaching provided in this province. A need therefore exists, not to replace teachers with technology, but rather to assist them in increasing their capacity through the use of technology.
It is within this context that I am proud to announce that this administration will shortly be embarking on a never done before audit of our existing ICT infrastructure. The audit will assess existing ICT infrastructure in the province, most especially the nature and extent internet connectivity in our 1500 schools, and will assess what level and kind of investment will be required to ensure that we have a much more cost-effective, fast and highly specialized network that our schools can use.
It is envisaged that should such an investment be possible, schools will have substantially reduced telecommunications costs, and we will be able to make for greater use of technology in schools, like the telematics programme, due to the availability of a fast, reliable and cheap network.
We realise that we still have a long way to go in achieving this ideal, but the forthcoming audit is an important step in the right direction. By harnessing the power of technology to deliver a quality curriculum, we could ultimately revolutionize how teaching takes place in this province.
In our vision it would be possible for the best teachers in each discipline to simultaneously teach hundreds of learners simultaneously and in so doing ensure that learners, no matter where they may be are given access to world class instruction.
With contributions, like we have here today by Telkom, this can become a reality.
Background to project:
Telkom Foundation, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, the Western Cape Education Department, the Khanya Project and 150 Western Cape Schools have together funded the "150 schools ICT project."
Three classrooms in each of the 150 schools now have an Internet package consisting of Telkom connectivity, interactive white boards with projectors and laptops for teachers.
Telkom SA contributed R22 million for the project and through the Khanya Project the WCED contributed R4.4 million. Schools contributed just over R2 million towards their own infrastructure costs.
List of schools available on request.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister of Education, Donald Grant
Cell: 072 724 1422
Tel: 021 467 2377