Computer Society Honours Top WCED Officials | Western Cape Government



Computer Society Honours Top WCED Officials

18 September 2005

The Computer Society of South Africa (CSSA) has selected Kobus van Wyk, programme manager of the Western Cape Education Department's (WCED) Khanya Project, as the society’s ICT Person of the Year for 2005.


Meanwhile Mike Chiles, Director of Information and Technological Services at the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) was made a Fellow of the CSSA for his leadership contribution to advancing technology in education.

To be made a Fellow of the CSSA is a great honour and is reserved only for those people who have made a significant contribution to the computer community.

Every year the CSSA awards outstanding individuals nationally, and it starts with the regional chapters, whose finalists are then automatic nominations in the national competition.

The CSSA, now active for more than 40 years, is the representative body of practising professionals in the computer industry. Its members come from many different backgrounds and bring together a variety of skills and experience.

What they have in common is their interest in computing and in maintaining high standards of practice in the computing profession. (CSSA Press Release, 14th September 2005)

The society’s citation for the award says that Mr Van Wyk has been active in the computer industry since 1982, after 15 years’ experience as a missionary. The citation further notes that the Khanya Project is internationally recognised as a leader in its field, and has been rewarded with a number of awards.

The WCED launched the Khanya Project in 2001 to support teaching and learning using information and communication technology in schools.

"Kobus, through his effective leadership of Khanya, has been able to find the magic combination of technology, community involvement and donor involvement to allow our industry to play a role in alleviating the backlogs in education in many previously disadvantaged communities," the citation says.

He has a BSc (Hons) degree in Information Systems, and a diploma in Strategic Management from the University of Stellenbosch.

Mr Chiles has been a member of the CSSA since 1980, was an early leader in establishing Computer Studies as a school subject. He was instrumental in establishing the Computer Olympiad in South Africa, where he was a judge from 1984 to 1997. He has also played a leading role in updating the Computer Studies curriculum.

The WCED's Khanya Project has installed computer laboratories in 402 schools to date, with another 210 laboratories in the pipeline.

The project has installed 13,432 computers in these laboratories and has trained or is currently training 10,251 teachers on how best to use computers to support teaching and learning.

About 342,000 learners now have access to computer laboratories installed by Khanya. The project team is working hard to make sure that every high school in the Western Cape has a computer laboratory by the end of 2005.

Said MEC for Education Cameron Dugmore: "ICT is at the heart of our country's future growth. However, one of our most critical challenges is the shortage of skills, especially in the industries of engineering, science, accountancy and information and communication technology.

"This poses a threat to our ability to grow the economy with six percent, as called for by President Thabo Mbeki. If we are going to be able to build our province as a Home for All, we must ensure that all our youth are equipped to deal with the demands of the new economy.

"More and more of our schools must have the opportunity to enjoy the enhanced learning experience of computers. As education we have injected considerable financial resources into technology, and to this end, we are committed to ensure that all our high schools have access to computer labs by the end of this year.

"These awards by the CSSA reflect the dedication of the officials concerned and the WCED as a whole to high levels of professional service, and demonstrate our collective commitment to the vision of building a learning home for all. Congratulations to both Kobus and Mike on their achievements.

"I am committed to working very closely with the CSSA to establish ways in which the society's members can support our e-education strategy. For instance, programmers can mentor our learners and other joint projects.

"I will be meeting with the CSSA Western Cape branch in the near future to discuss this and other possible projects."

For comment contact:
Mike Chiles: 021 467 2025
Kobus van Wyk: 021 467 2224, or 083 374 4853

For enquiries, contact Paddy Attwell 083 261 7699,
or Gert Witbooi: 082 550 3938.

Gert Witbooi
Media Secretary
Office of the MEC for Education
Western Cape
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689
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