Online project stalls as departments bicker

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iol scitech aug 29 Barbara Creecy INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - The two provincial departments responsible for the Gauteng Online (GoL) Schools Project – education and finance – don’t appear to know what the other is doing on the rollout of the project.

During the education portfolio committee sitting at the Gauteng legislature on Tuesday, education MEC Barbara Creecy and another departmental official, Albert Chanee, told the committee that the building of the new GoL labs had been suspended since the first quarter of the financial year because of “SLA [service level agreement] glitches”.

They said the department of finance would provide more details on the suspension.

According to statistics provided by the department in May this year, 1 557 schools had an operational GoL lab and the remaining 621 schools would be connected by the end of this financial year (March 2013). It is the building of the new labs that has been suspended.

When asked for clarity after the committee sitting, finance department spokesman John Sukazi said the department was not aware of the suspension and that “work related to the project is continuing”.

The department of education’s spokesman, Charles Phahlane, said the glitches that Creecy and Chanee had referred to were problems that had arisen during the first quarter of this financial year – April to June – which had now been sorted out.

Phahlane said that because of space constraints, the department would now rely on using mobile computer labs, referred to as CoW (Computers on Wheels), to reach those schools.

He said the labs, which are able to cater to more that one school, are cheaper and pose less of a security risk.

Both Phahlane and Sukazi could not specify how many of these mobile labs were needed to ensure that every school had access to a computer lab, but they maintained that the March 2013 deadline would be met.

DA Gauteng education spokesman Khume Ramulifho, who is also part of the committee, said the party would conduct its own survey at schools to assess which schools had computer labs and which did not.

He said that if there was no suspension on the building of the remaining GoL labs, then the department had misled the committee, adding that the education department should be solely responsible for the rollout and oversight of GoL because the fact that it was shared by two department led to confusion and delays.

He said that if problems arise with the project, officials are sent from pillar to post between the two departments, and it takes longer than necessary for the problems to be solved. - The Star

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