Indeed, by reducing the physical costs of communications, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an increasingly powerful tool for participating in global markets, promoting political accountability, improving the delivery of basic services, and enhancing local development opportunities.
That is why as part of the Gauteng Department of Education’s (GDE) strategic plan and efforts to actively engage and partner with parents in the educational experience, all applications for the 2018 academic year will be processed through the Admissions Application Online. Central to the GDE’s vision are the twin polities of “e-governance” and “e-education”, which the government has propelled to the forefront of the province’s service delivery initiatives.
The GDE is working hard to modernise the delivery of information and government services. As an economic development enabler, encouraging the proliferation of ICT in the delivery of education has given us access to an array of information and knowledge unheard of in the past.
By spreading access to knowledge via modern communication technologies, I am determined that we in the GDE will work smarter. We are investing in e-education so that children and their parents can grow with relevance and skills. By using this secure online enrolment system, from April 18 to October 20, families will be able to register a child’s information, thus minimising wait times and paperwork at registration, as well as ensure accuracy of information for all learners.
Grade 1 and 8 are required to register from May 2 to October 20. The re-enrolment period for Grade 2 to 7 and Grade 9-11 will happen from April 18 to May 19, 2017. So far, we are pleased with the success of the online application system and humbled by the overwhelming response of the people of Gauteng.
The feedback so far from the parents who have either used the system or go to an admission centre to apply online has generally been positive. On the first day, more than 100 000 applications were processed through the system. Apart from applying from the comfort of their homes and offices, parents and guardians can do so at schools, district offices, teacher centres and other identified sites.
Those without internet can visit their local community libraries, where they would be assisted with their registration. People should also utilise free wi-fi spots in their areas to login to the site and register for their children. Upon successful submission of the application form online, the parents and guardians shall be provided with a waiting list number.
Priority will be given to those who apply on time. Parents are urged to confirm offers of placement urgently, failing which they will lose those offers. This new online system will better able us to serve families by easing the registration process.
It is an opportunity to eliminate many of the printed forms that must be completed by parents or guardians each year, and allows them to complete those forms electronically at a time that is most convenient for them. South Africa and Gauteng are not alone in e-government and e-education.
As a country we are a signatory of Connect 2020 Agenda ITU (International Telecommunication Union) Member States committed to work towards “an information society, empowered by the interconnected world, where telecommunications and ICT enable and accelerate socially, economically and environmentally sustainable growth and development for everyone.”
The four pillars of the agenda - growth, inclusiveness, sustainability, and innovation and partnership - represent an invitation to all stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society and academia, to work together towards achieving agreed, quantifiable and specific targets.
Building on the United Nations’ previous commitments to sustainable development as defined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the work of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development, the Connect 2020 goals aim to ensure that telecommunications and ICTs act as key enablers of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
Transparent access to the internet, cost-efficient computer literacy and smooth e-government policies like ours are but a few of the main ethics every nation is hoping to acquire to keep pace with the rapid developments in the information technology sector.
This year the Admissions Application Online System website (www.gdeadmission.gov.za) for the 2018 academic year opened on May 2 and closes October 20, 2017 to eradicate long queues at schools during the application period, create a centralised database for planning purposes, enable parents to access services at ease and ensure that learners are placed within the legislative prescripts.
I urge all parents and guardians to use the online registration process and observe the deadlines. Of course, last year the GDE came under heavy criticism and attack after the online registration system crashed after going live. The technical glitches have been resolved. This year we anticipate that the system will be able to handle a large quantity of traffic. Capacity for logins has been increased. Indeed, some argued that the online system forcibly allocated parents and kids to nearby schools in which the teaching language may be different to their child’s home language. Others said the registration system discriminated against lower-income earners who cannot afford to access the internet.
All challenges have been overcome and we hope that the critics, who wanted parents to queue at schools like before, have begun to realise the benefits of the online registration system. Let us share the benefits of technology with those who stand to gain most, the learners, guardians and parents. The online learner registration is the future. The future is paperless. Let us all embrace it.
* Lesufi is Gauteng MEC for Education.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.