Schools ready for e-learning, teachers not

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Premier Helen Zille and education MEC Donald Grant during a curriculum and assessment policy statement training session Picture: Willem Law

Johannesburg - More than 80 percent of schools have the infrastructure to roll out digital learning but most teachers are not equipped to use it, a study has found.

“There is overwhelming positivity towards the idea of e-learning, but most teachers aren't equipped yet to use digital education tools,” textbook publisher Via Afrika content manager Micheal Goodman said in a statement on Friday.

The publisher commissioned the study.

Via Afrika is owned by Media 24 and Thebe Investment Holdings, and has produced textbooks for South African schools for more than 60 years.

Goodman said that according to basic education department figures around 130 000 of 413 067 teachers in the country had been trained in basic computer skills and software devices. But these figures were three years old.

“The (figure) excludes a great deal of private training of teachers by publishers as well as other suppliers of content and devices, so we're perhaps readier than we think to roll out digital learning tools,” Goodman said.

“Survey results show that all provinces strongly support the use of ICT (information and communication technology), or actively promote it, and are anxious for roll out,” said Goodman.

Research for the study was conducted using a questionnaire distributed to all nine provincial education departments and augmented with secondary sources.

Goodman said the department was trying to improve infrastructure and teacher training around the country, but logistical problems existed.

“Electricity is a critical issue if e-learning is to take place and much work has gone into providing a stable electricity supply in all schools in the country.

“Overall five of our provinces have more than 90 percent of their schools electrified, but two of the nine provinces are lagging behind; more than 20 percent of the schools have no power supply whatsoever.”

He said creative ways were needed to deliver content without reliance on the internet.

“Creating digital textbooks and other materials that work offline can overcome such problems.

“We have a generation of children in classrooms right now who need access to these materials. Delivery on the promise of the right to education is a non-negotiable for South Africa.”

Sapa


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