The Western Cape Government’s Vision for ICT in Education
Media Statement by the Minister of Education, Donald Grant
In 2001, under the leadership of the former Minister of Education, Helen Zille, an ICT programme was initiated in the Western Cape to explore the potential of using technology in schools to improve curriculum delivery in the Western Cape.
The functions of this project were to ensure that every school learner and educator had access to some form of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) that would enhance education by 2012.
As a result of this project, all our schools have technology of some nature, be it a computer laboratory, or some form of classroom technology like an interactive whiteboard.
In preparing learners now for the future, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has developed an e-Education Vision that will see the expansion of our existing technology base and digital resources and the introduction of appropriate solutions that are responsive to changing education needs.
Our vision involves a shift from traditional methods of teaching and learning in conventional education environments where appropriate to e-Teaching, e-Learning and virtual learning environments where digital resources and systems are more readily available to schools and the engagement between educators and learners is more enhanced than before.
We believe that e-Education is primarily about learning and teaching and not about technology, and it is the ‘e’ in e-Education that supplements and enhances teaching and learning experiences in the classroom. The ‘e’ in e-Education is therefore not a substitute for our teachers, but is rather a resource intended to aid our teachers in the important work that they do.
The Western Cape Government’s vision for ICT in education is therefore one that will see:
• Teachers and education managers who are empowered to use technology effectively and innovatively.
• Learners who are empowered to use technology effectively and innovatively.
• Models, methodologies, pedagogies and digital content that are responsive to the education needs of our learners.
• Robust and reliable ICT systems that support e-Education;
• Technology-enriched environment that enable effective learner-centered e learning.
• Robust and reliable ICT systems that will reduce the administrative burden that is often associated with planning and management. The new era of e-Education in the Western Cape is a natural progression from the ICT solutions that have been introduced by the Western Cape Education Department over the last ten years.
We are currently supporting e-Education through a number of channels including:
1. The provisioning of technology to new schools and the upgrading or advancement of technology in existing schools.
2. Researching and evaluating the use of e-Education methodologies and cutting-edge technologies.
3. Training in ICT for educators.
4. The sourcing, procurement and provisioning of digital resources through multiple access points.
5. On-going support of e-Education at schools.
The Department has also developed an e-Education platform in the form of a curriculum website and a Learning Management System.
This platform currently houses a repository of educational digital resources and provides facilities for teachers, learners, and departmental officials to communicate and collaborate with each other in support of teaching and learning.
To date we are able to use this platform to access over 400 free digital learning objects, a collection of free software for educational purposes and a collection of apps for tablets which can be obtained in formats such as documents, videos, animations and simulations.
A key too is that much of this is access to broadband connectivity. In this regard, earlier this year, the Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille made an exciting announcement in her State of the Province address regarding the establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle or Public Private Partnership to bring broadband access to schools, as well as provincial and municipal government facilities, in the Western Cape over the next two and half years.
It is our view that high speed broadband connectivity is the foundation on which ICT can be integrated into our schools, making equitable access to the information highway possible for all users, regardless of location.
High speed broadband connectivity will enable the Department to improve the quality of education in this province through the provisioning of high quality curriculum material and teaching aids, improved communication and remote technical support.
We are very excited about our new vision for e-education which will support and assist our educators in enhancing the delivery of the curriculum to ensure that our learners receive a better quality education.