Wesley Diphoko is founder of Kaya Labs and chairperson of the IEEE Open Data Industry Connections in South Africa.
CAPE TOWN - If there was an accolade for implementing technology in education then Panyaza Lesufi would be its recipient. 

The Gauteng Education MEC has shown great leadership in the implementation of technology in the education sector by establishing an online registration platform and introducing education technology devices for schools. In a country still struggling to integrate technology in education, Lesufi is leading the way.

Online registration

The online registration system introduced by the Gauteng Education Department enables parents to easily register pupils with less frustration than that associated with the process elsewhere.

According to media reports, in its first minute of opening this year, the system registered 10000 applicants, demonstrating the impact of using technology to solve major education system challenges.

Such a solution should be implemented nationally in schools to handle long queues and chaos during registration periods.

The system can, however, be improved by enabling better access on mobiles and off-line to enable the disconnected to also register with ease.

Education tech devices

Lesufi understands the challenge of the disconnected and the value of access to technology devices.

In 2015, speaking to ITWeb, he said: “In this country, by 2018, there is going to be one child, one tablet; one teacher, one laptop; and one classroom, one interactive board.”

This illustrates his commitment to the implementation of technology in Gauteng schools. Providing technology devices to pupils was a great move by Lesufi to bridge the digital divide in Gauteng schools.

Although the implementation of this project had its own challenges, it remains one of the great examples of what needs to be done to prepare young Africans for the digital future.

Lesufi, as the Education MEC, has laid a fine foundation for education and technology in Gauteng . However, there’s more that can be done to derive benefits from using technology in education.

The software and hardware approach applied by Lesufi can provide the Gauteng Education Department with the necessary data to bring about better education results for pupils.

The class of 2019 is in a far better position to get the necessary support from the Gauteng Education Department if the pupil data captured during registration is used effectively.

This department has the greatest opportunity to illustrate how artificial intelligence can be used in improving the quality of education in Gauteng.

The pupil data collected can be used to track each child's performance and inform the department, teacher, parent and even the national Ministry of Basic Education when and how to intervene in the development of each pupil.

This approach will assist the Gauteng Education Department to not get a pupil's results only when they reach Grade 12, but through pupil data provided by the system every day, all stakeholders (parents, teachers and education officials) will be informed about the performance of the pupil.

Lesufi should view the online registration system as just the beginning in developing software that can enhance the broader education system in Gauteng.

One of the things he has done correctly in the implementation process is to lead.

Each website or app needs a leader who has the authority to oversee its implementation in line with the vision of the organisation.

Lesufi has created a digital asset for the Gauteng Education Department and such an investment should not be wasted.

The model should be enhanced further and serve as a template for integrating technology in South Africa's schools.

In line with the 2018 vision to enable one tablet per child, one laptop per teacher, this is still a work in progress as there's a lot to be done to bring teachers on board with the use of technology.

In the spirit of encouraging the application of technology in schools, the Minister of Basic Education and the Minister of Higher Education should introduce an Education and Technology Award for educating public servants.

Such an award should encourage public servants such as Lesufi to continue advancing education and also encourage more public servants to follow in his footsteps.

The Infonomist will be working towards identifying teachers, public education officials and learning institutions that are great examples of applying technology to advance education in South Africa.

Successful candidates will form part of the Infonomist Education Technology platform ecosystem that is under development to enable online education within the African continent.

Panyaza Lesufi is showing South Africans how to lead from the front in applying technology in the education sector. Who will follow in his footsteps?

NOTE: This column will be updated with information about people and institutions that are contributing towards advancing education through the use of technology in the African continent.

Wesley Diphoko is the founder of Kaya Labs, an education platform designed to bridge the gap between academia and industry for technology graduates. He is chairperson of the IEEE Open Data Initiative (industry connections programme).

- BUSINESS REPORT