Soweto school set to go digital
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Johannesburg - Protea Glen Secondary School in Soweto was a hive of activity on Wednesday to ensure Grade 12 classrooms were fitted with interactive boards and tablets.
The equipment needs to be fitted before schools reopen on Monday.
Protea Glen is one of the 375 best-performing township schools that have been identified to receive tablets as part of the second phase of the Gauteng Education Department’s Classroom of the Future project.
When schools reopen for the third term next week, about 275 schools will start operating digitally, while the other 100 will come on board later in the term.
The project was launched at the beginning of the school year in seven schools.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said at the time that it would cost R17 billion to roll out paperless classrooms.
Creating the special classrooms is a five-year project to enable schools to use ICT tablets as tools in teaching and learning. The tablets would be connected to a server through broadband, wi-fi and 4G connections.
For now, only Grade 12 pupils will be taught how to use the tablets, which all contain the curriculum material.
School principal Joe Mabaso said the entire school was excited about the project.
“Right now 22 of our teachers are receiving training on how to teach learners using the new methods.
“We’ve had interactions with teachers from Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School, which was in the first pilot project, and it has been very exciting. The teachers’ methods are very exciting and we cannot wait for the term to start,” he said.
School governing body treasurer Lennox Hlatshwayo reiterated that teachers were undergoing training and that they, along with the pupils, were excited about their new tools.
“Teachers and learners are excited. The learners cannot wait to have the tablets. It is also important for us, as parents, to play an active role.”
Although the school has not had a break-in for years, Hlatshwayo said the school was worried about the dangers the new technology posed.
Of the at least 6 200 paperless classroom tablets at the first seven schools, 11 of them – each worth about R3 500 – have been stolen or lost. All had been fitted with tracking devices and five of them had been recovered. Six of the tablets had not been switched on since they were stolen and therefore could not be found.
Gauteng education spokeswoman Phumla Sekhonyane said the department encouraged schools to discuss the project with parents and communities.
She said the first phase of the project was a success.
“From our preliminary examination we have learnt that we have achieved what we had intended. We have ICT as resources of learning and are producing digital-age children who are technologically savvy. We are using technology to bridge the digital gap.”
Grade 12 pupil Mvikeli Mzolo said he was glad he no longer had to carry textbooks and that he and fellow pupils would be better prepared for university. “Technology is used a lot there. If we learn as much as we can this year, we will fit in perfectly into university next year,” he said.