05 Oct South Africa: SA’s digital classrooms project gains global traction
South Africa’s ‘Wired for Life’, which provides students and teachers with access to technology (including laptops, tablets and smart boards) is becoming a model for the rest of the world, according to the company responsible for its roll out and management across Gauteng province.
Gary Bekker, CEO of VastraTech says ‘Wired for Life’ has introduced unique ways of equipping schools with the latest technology.
“We look after all of Sub-Saharan Africa for VastraTech and we focus on developing use of technology in education in this market. We see ourselves as a conduit to bring best practices from first world environments here. What we often see though, is that many of our strategies and ideas are developed by our local teachers and education officials. When we travel overseas and we start sharing our experience and concepts with some of our international partners, they are in awe of what we are doing. We exchange solutions with them and somewhere in between we find a unique African flavour in terms of delivery.”
Bekker says the company’s particular emphasis on teacher development is a unique part of what they do and is interesting for others around the world.
“The heightened focus on teacher development over and above providing the hardware and content with our partners is unequivocally one of our best exports. The approach of the government, spearheaded by MEC Lesufi together with our team, developed a professional development programme to help teachers progress through a sequential process of learning and embracing technology in the classroom. It is an ongoing thing, but what we have done in South Africa is that we are in the process of training 12 000 teachers in Grade 11 and 12.”
VastraTech says it plans to reach more than 390 000 teachers across South Africa in partnership with ICT industry players.
Insurance and security
Bekker says a multi-stakeholder approach to insurance and security solutions is an effective way to address the challenge of loss and theft of devices and technical equipment.
Sesi Makena, principal at Boitumelo Secondary School which was among the first schools to be included on the project in 2015, says current attempts to keep the equipment secure are bearing fruit.
“We have a policy where we take the tablets from the younger high school learners for safekeeping. We have not registered a loss in the last two years. The challenge of learners putting music and other apps on their gadgets is also occurring less often.”
Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Province MEC for Education says the 6000 classrooms that they have equipped through the project to date will help South Africa become part of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’.
“It’s about robots, it’s about driverless cars, it’s about coding, and our learners need to be part of that world. I want them to be a part of global innovation,” said Lesufi.
Source: IT Web Africa