Dept takes technology to rural schools

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pretoria - The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform recently donated Macbooks and other ICT equipment to Gaopotlake High in Mokgalwaneng as part of a project to bring the best available technology and practical skills to schools.

The school, situated about 100 km from Rustenburg in the North West, has approximately 585 learners - 290 in Grade 10, 212 in Grade 11 and 83 in Grade 12. It recieved 12 Apple Macbooks, 14 Nikon Cameras, an adapter and video camera. A total of R570 000 has been used to fund the project.

The neighbouring schools will also benefit from the donation because they will have access to the equipment.

In a statement, the department said it was important to introduce the iSchoolAfrica project to high schools as learners were getting ready for tertiary institutions and this would help with their career choices.

There are 14 iSchools sponsored by the department in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Western Cape.

The project assists with the integration of technology into classrooms. Facilitators work with the respective schools for a duration of three years, guiding them on methodology and on using the Macbooks as tools to assist with curriculum delivery.

The department said teachers and learners are introduced to ICT in a motivating way. Learners develop creative and critical thinking skills, essential for effective and meaningful participation in daily life.

"The critical piece of hardware is the Macbooks, Apple's special-purpose education laptop. These Macbooks come preloaded with the I-Life suite of applications, allowing learners to make movies, music, and websites.

"The focus of the programme is learning and teaching... However, language proves a challenge as most projects are not created in the vernacular," said the department.

The equipment is kept in a secure, mobile case. The mobile case is a way of deploying scarce resources and can be moved from classroom to classroom, ensuring integration into subject teaching and learning.