Feebearing - Cape Town - 140305 - MEC Alan Winde gave the Western Cape Budget 2014 - 2017 this afternoon in the Provincial Legislature in Cape Town. Pictured: MEC Alan Winde delivering the speech. REPORTER: WARDA MEYER. PICTURE: WILLEM LAW.

Cape Town - Pupils in Atlantis and Delft in the Western Cape will get free high-speed wi-fi access to help them research school projects online.

Finance MEC Alan Winde said schools in the two areas would become a central connection point for free wi-fi and pupils should have access by September.

The provincial government had called on non-profit organisations (NPOs) to submit proposals for wi-fi hotspots.

“We evaluated the proposals received and the top three NPO proposals were selected. These NPOs were chosen based on the strength of their plans and ability to assist as many learners as possible.”

Winde said the pilot project was part of the Western Cape’s broadband initiative and more information on the project would be provided at a press briefing later this month.

“Step by step we are connecting our residents to high-speed internet in order to grow our economy and jobs. Over the next three years the Western Cape will spend R1.3-billion on its broadband rollout plan.”

Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Paddy Attwell said the provision of wi-fi in Atlantis and Delft would “contribute significantly to supporting education in these communities”.

“(It) will make it easier for learners to access digital learning materials after school hours.

“We expect that education will move into a whole new era as we expand access to broadband, especially in our poorest communities.”

Attwell said the department had published a request for information “to explore options for providing tablets to schools”.

Jonavon Rustin, provincial secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, said that while the union welcomed any technological improvements and would like to see more schools getting access to free wi-fi, it first wanted to see a reduction in class sizes in Delft.

“What we also need to know is how the children will get access to wi-fi. Will it be through PCs or will they have to use cellphones? Some children don’t have cellphones and in some cases children are not allowed to use their cellphones at school.” - Cape Argus