Technology boost for E Cape rural school

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mthatha – An innovative initiative by government to supply modern technology equipment to disadvantaged schools in rural areas is set to change the face of these schools. 

From traditional teaching and learning methods to high-tech tablet e-learning, government plans to invest millions of rands to equip schools in some of the country’s poorest regions with modern technology that authorities hope will improve learner performance.

On Thursday, Deputy Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams rolled out the project by handing out television sets and satellite dishes to be used for learning at JS Skenjana Senior Secondary School, situated in Idutywa, near Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape.

The event also formed part of government’s National Imbizo Focus Week programme, which provides an opportunity for leaders to interact with different communities across the country and understand their needs. It also coincides with the week in which South Africa and the world are gearing up to celebrate International Nelson Mandela Day, an occasion dedicated to giving and uplifting communities.

Officials say the equipment will be used by the school to instil a culture of e-learning and help learners embrace modern technology in their day to day learning.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said government will be investing more money in disadvantaged schools that are still behind with technology and ICT. The strategy will include what she termed “revolutionising the communication sector”.

“Our belief is for South Africa to be the best it can be; everyone has to be technologically educated. Government has realised that even though we have representatives in every area, communication does not necessarily take place everywhere as we would like it to be,” she said.

Earlier this year, the deputy minister handed over 30 tablet cyber labs to learners from St Patricks and Sandi Senior Secondary schools in rural Libode, also in the Eastern Cape.

In Dutywa on Thursday, the deputy minister said internet connectivity in schools will enhance the standard of learners in rural schools to equal those in urban areas.

Modernising rural schools

The district has more than 400 schools, most of them rural, and lack the necessary modern technology needed in schools.

During the event, it was also announced that about 100 decoders, donated by pay TV operator Open View, will be given to other schools in the area.  

“We want every learner to be technologically savvy and this is a campaign we will be taking to every corner of our country,” she said.

Government will continue to invest in modern technology for both teachers and learners to ensure that South Africa meets the international standards in education.

While a number of schools in urban South Africa have incorporated the latest technology in the classroom, many rural schools were still trailing behind, with many lacking science laboratories.

It’s a life changing experience, says 17-year-old Grade 12 pupil Thando Ndlandlane.  

“For me, technology helps increase the desire of learners to learn. It helps us move away from the old boring methods of learning to new and exciting ways. I am very excited that from now on, we will be making use of various gadgets as we strive to improve our learning.”

Learners say the equipment will help them improve their learning while some said it will improve their knowledge of the world. This is particularly true in the rural schools where many learners still battle to even switch on a computer, let alone using it.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said expanding access to appropriate technologies in rural communities in South Africa is vital to ensure equitable socio-economic development as envisaged in the National Development Plan.

School principal Nomawabo Dodo Sangqu said it was worrying that rural areas continue to be “side-lined” in terms of access to simple appropriate technologies and ICT.

“Despite the infrastructure challenges that we have, we manage to produce good results. We are hoping the investment in technology in our school will enhance the performance of the learners. We are very excited and humbled by this donation,” she said.

“We believe this is the beginning of new things to come for our schools. In the current world, we are required to be e-wise, so this is an opportune time for our school to take advantage of ITC to improve our quality of teaching and learning.” – SAnews.gov.za

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